The lines and people of Nazca

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The Nazca civilization flourished on the southern coast of Peru between 100 B.C. and 600 A.D. The maximum population of the Nazca has been estimated at 25,000 people, spread across small villages which were typically built on terraced hillsides near irrigated floodplains. The Nazca people were heavily influenced by the preceding Paracas culture, who live from 800 B.C. to 100 B.C. These geoglyphs were made during the Paracas Period.

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In 1930, some people discovered Nazca Lines when they were crossing the Nazca desert by plane. After that, geologists took deep interest in these lines and tried to find the secret behind creation of these permanent geoglyphs. Geologists believe that these long series of geoglyphs were made by Nazca people in the ancient era between 400 and 600 AD. The geoglyphs of the Nasca culture were mainly drawn on flat terrain. They comprise well defined zoomorphic figures, lines and trapezoids. In many instances Nazca lines cut through Paracas figures.

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There are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. They were designed by the Nazca people, and today you can recognize geometric shapes and animal shapes like fish, hummingbird, monkey, jaguar, sharks, lizard etc.

To the left “the monkey” and to the right “the dog”

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The Nazca Lines are a group of very large trenches, which are 10-15 cm deep. The largest figure found at Nazca stretches about 200 meters across, so the best way to see the Nazca lines is from the air. In the right picture you see the astronaut.

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Archaeologists, historians, and mathematicians have all tried to determine the purpose of the lines. Maria Reiche asserted that some or all of the figures represented constellations. In 1998 it was concluded that the animal figures were “representations of heavenly shapes”. The purpose of the lines have not yet been clearly determinated.

To the left “the hummingbird” and to the right “the condor”

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To the left “the parrot” and to the right “the heron”

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If you don’t like flying, you also have the opportunity to see a couple of geoglyphs from two different towers located on the Pan-American highway. In the left side of the picture you see the lizard, and in the right side of the picture you see the tree. The geoglyphs are amazing.

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Flying over the Pan-American highway reminded us, that 1 year ago we were riding our two motorcycles right here on our way to Santiago de Chile. At that point we didn’t know when or where our adventure would end. Now one year later we are back the same place, but with so many great experiences and stories to tell.

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We ended the fight over the Cantalloc Aqueducts, and later we explored them by foot

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The Cantalloc Aqueducts were built by the Nazca culture. They are part of a system of aqueducts of the same type called puquios that were built by the pre-Inca civilization of Nazca about 1,500 years ago. More than 40 aqueducts were built, which were used all year round. The aqueducts ensured the supply of water to the city of Nazca and the surrounding fields, allowing the cultivation of cotton, beans, potatoes, and other crops in an arid region (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantalloc_Aqueducts). Archaeologists found clear evidence that the “puquio”-system must previously have been much more developed than it appears today. A series of canals was used to bring to the surface water from underground and channel it to the areas where it was needed. Any excess was stored in surface reservoirs. To help keep the water flowing, chimneys were excavated above the canals in the shape of corkscrewing funnels. These funnels admitted wind into the canals, and the difference in atmospheric pressure along the canal length forced the water through the system and eventually to the desired destination. Just saying that a lot of work went into building the “puquio”-system.

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From 500 AD, the Nazca civilization started to decline and by 750 AD the civilization had fallen completely

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Walking around the Nazca burial site

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Many burials of Nazca individuals are what is known as “partial burials”. Partial burials typically include bundles of limbs, caches of severed heads, or bodies that are missing several parts. Several burials have been discovered in which the head of the skeleton is missing and is replaced with what is most commonly referred to as a “head jar”. The head jar is a ceramic vessel with a human head painted on it, along with trees and plants sprouting from the head (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_culture).

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The human remains are astoundingly well-preserved. The Peruvian Desert’s dry climate is, of course, a factor in the preservation, but burial practices also contributed to the condition of many of the corpses, some still hanging on to their hair and skin over 1200 years after their demise (Source: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chauchilla-cemetery).

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It was time to say goodbye to Nazca

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