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Nazca Lines

Invaders are destroying the incredible Nazca lines of Peru

The incredible Nazca lines in Peru are under threat of destruction after a group of ‘invasores’ (invaders) have taken possession of two large tracts of land in the protected area. Already several groups of lines and geometric shapes have been destroyed my machinery and the invaders have constructed a stone wall, divided the territory into lots, dumped equipment and vandalized the area.

Located in the arid Peruvian coastal plain, some 400 km south of Lima, the geoglyphs of Nazca cover an incredible 450 km2. They are among archaeology's greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometres long.  The startling feature of the Nazca geoglyphs is that they can only really be appreciated from the air, raising questions about how and why they were created. The Nazca lines number in their thousands and the vast majority of them date from 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region.

According to locals, these kinds of ‘invasions’ have become common in the region. The latest invasion has taken place near Ica and cultural and archaeological authorities in the region are worried about the damage taking place as a result of the illegal occupation. However, it appears that the authorities are failing to take appropriate action to evict the ‘invasores’.

“Adding to the illegal action [of taking the protected land], you have to add the indifference of the authorities who are supposed to be protecting the cultural heritage […] they generally don’t act until well after the damage has been done, and it’s irreversible,” said Giuseppe Orefici, Director of the Center for Pre Columbian Archaeological Studies and the Nasca Project.

 “It’s imperative that the cultural authorities take on their responsibility, that they mark off and put of signs denoting archaeological sites […] and take action towards sanctioning the ‘invasores,’ because they keep destroying protected sites in Nasca with impunity,” said Orefici.

Despite a plethora of research on these amazing creations, the purpose of the lines continues to elude researchers and remains a matter of conjecture. Some scientists believe they are linked to the heavens with some representing constellations in the night sky. However, research has found that there are just as many lines not related to constellations as those that are, meaning that this theory cannot provide a complete explanation. Other experts believe that the lines played a role in pilgrimage, with one walking across them to reach a sacred place such as Cahuachi and its adobe pyramids. Yet another idea is that the lines are connected with water, something vital to life yet hard to get in the desert, and may have played a part in water-based rituals. However, the fact the lines have remained enigmatic have promoted alternative theorists to float ideas about extraterrestrial communication or ‘messages to the gods’.

By April Holloway

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