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The incredible Sajama Lines of Bolivia

The unknown origins of the incredible Sajama Lines of Bolivia

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In Western Bolivia, thousands and thousands of perfectly straight paths are etched into the ground, creating an amazing sight. These lines, otherwise known as geoglyphs, were etched into the ground over a period of 3,000 years by indigenous people living near the volcano Sajama. It is unknown exactly when or why they were constructed, but they remain a mystery, as it is hard to imagine how the construction of something of such magnitude could pre-date modern technology.

The Sajama lines cover an area of approximately 22,525 square kilometers, or 8,700 square miles. They are perfectly straight lines, formed into a web or network. Each individual line is 1-3 meters, or 3-10 feet wide. The longest lines measure 20 kilometers, or 12 miles in length.  The creation of these lines without the aid of modern technology is a marvel. They were etched into the ground by scraping vegetation to the side, and scouring away dark surface material consisting of soil and oxidized rock, to reveal a light subsurface. The precision of the Sajama lines is remarkable. According to scholars at the University of Pennsylvania:

While many of these sacred lines extend as far as ten or twenty kilometers (and perhaps further), they all seem to maintain a remarkable straightness despite rugged topography and natural obstacles. The sheer number and length of these lines is often difficult to perceive from ground level, but from the air or hilltop vantage points, they are stunning.

The Sajama Lines were created by scraping away surface material

Like the Nazca Lines of Peru, the Sajama Lines were created by scraping away surface material. ( Source)

Some believe that the indigenous people used the lines as a navigational tool during sacred pilgrimages. Wak'as (shrines), chullpas (burial towers) and hamlets are interspersed among the lines, creating a cultural landscape.

The striking radial arrangement of the Sajama Lines

The striking radial arrangement of the Sajama Lines ( Source)

The Sajama lines were first accounted for in 1932 by traveler Aimé Felix Tschiffely. A few years later, anthropologist Alfred Metraux published ethnographic fieldwork about the Aymara and Chipaya people of the Carangas region, bringing the lines and cultural landscape to the attention of scholars. More recently, the Landmarks Foundation has worked to protect the lines from threats of erosion, unchecked development and tourism in the area, and other dangers that come from the absence of a management plan. They have studied the lines and created a database to help protect them. Working closely with the University of Pennsylvania, the Landmarks Foundation has created the “Tierra Sajama Project,” utilizing analytic digital media tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) to map, describe, and analyze the lines. The Tierra Sajama Project achieved the objectives of:

  • Creating a computer-database of maps and pertinent information about the lines, local vegetation, and relevant topography
  • Analyzing and interpreting the patterns and meanings of various land features such as mountaintop shrines and religious structures to determine possible alignments to the sacred lines
  • Developing proposals that provided for long-term protection of the lines and enhanced appreciation of the sacred landscape

Unfortunately, the analytical mapping of the size, shape, and location of the Sajama lines doesn’t answer the many questions which remain, such as who created them, what was their purpose, and what tools did they use? Answering these questions may help us to understand another piece of human history. For now, we will have to continue to marvel at the vast area covered by the lines, and the amount of effort it must have taken to create them, without fully understanding their purpose or function.

Featured image: The Sajama Lines, Bolivia ( Source )

Sources

Sajama Lines – Wikipedia

Nevado Sajama – Desert Mountaineer

Geoglyphs of the Andes – Basement Geographer

Sajama Lines, Sajama, Bolivia – Archive.today

By M R Reese

Comments

If you look at the geoglyph its in a universal language. i often see these and wonder why they dont make sense to people. its in itself a language. as relative to US... usually you will get two of these pictures near each other, it can be seen pretty easily, well to me that there are differences there.. these all equate to maths, that works out, things like day lengths, time (a concept only relevant to humans yet not relative to anything else especailly when dealing with spacial volumes, geometry..) you can pretty much work out, any number of things from the shapes...

if you dont believe, take a look at the pattern then go and look at an intelligence test... you all know being so smart and that, measuring lines for km;s in your gardens with your iphones... I am sure.. a basic inteligence test uses these patterns to literally test inteligence...

from ET's point of view, its a hell of a lot smarter then sending some ruckity space junk with a nuclear reactor equiped, potentially to disatourious results in some far of solar system, with a picture of a wavy hand queefing sounds, and a map to where we are so they know who tried to bomb them... But till this date.. the pattern illudes everyone.. its mysterious.. stone age people chucking rocks at beavers for food, making lines cause they where bored.. spot on. good reading thanks.

there a rocks in the desert that move.. they make patterns.. the sky is magnitude.. we shoot something called haarp into in the arctic and antarctic this ultra high radio array has an effect... If I was a smart alien race i would literally point my radio telescope at planets, producing simple geometric patterns over time... by bombarding life producing atomispheres with radio waves of sorts, could target more then we have in our entire time running seti, in what, a few hours, the message would be legible to inteligent life, and if left undisturbed would remain for thousands of years. this happens and has happened all over earth people for a long time btw.... as a basic well inteligence test.. of sorts, to say hi... by registering how much pressure is on the sky above you... something... newtonian physics doesnt account for btw.. as well rock falls down.. as humans we feel these pressure drops so do animals birds etc.. our caveman brothers would have... you can actually measure if that is present in these areas and determine if yes it is an actual message like I am describing, like on every intelligence test. perhaps look at one before trying use rocks and lasers in the backyard to measure things... really.

anyhow. this probably wont get published im not here for that. please think people start actually thinking... Or we can just keep sending nuclear defective junk into space to potentialy iradate another planets atmosphere, for ever the whole time playing whale noises, waving, not mentioning much about the language of the actual universe.. a squares always going to be a square guys, even when time is really totally irrelevant. what ever planet your from, mathematics is the true universal language. there is literally a message hidden in what was pictured... we dont deserve it anyhow... keep arguing about drawing lines in your backyard... carry on.

Until man can get over himself, nothing is possible. As a species in the universe I think we would not currently, nor have we ever been intelligent life... just have a read of this article for one, then the messages... and seriously it makes you feel like you won a Darwin award.

If you think I am incorrect please just look at a standard intelligence test, and tell me you do not see the similarity very simply in what is being conveyed in the test... and then does it relate to what you are viewing in the geoglyph. And I dont mean in the sense of, view the geoglyph as something you see every day, view it as a series of shapes that if moved around form numbers patterns, things like this. IT is actually by the very definition a language and a universal one.

Tsurugi's picture

Have you ever gone hiking in the wilderness? Try going in a straight line, no matter what obstacle lies in the way. You'll quickly find that attempting to do so is not only extremely difficult in certain places, it is also incredibly dangerous. A deviation of tens of meters to go around certain features is much more preferrable to risking death or major injury just to keep the path straight.

Imagine this:

You've been stranded on an island with natural resources that are scattered in a multitude of directions. You map out the area using a center point, a reference point, and a destination. Then you draw a straight line from center point to destination and a straight line from origin to center point. The Hypotenuse is the straightest and shortest path between these distances.
Cartography hasn't been found for the years noted, though this doesn't exclude the possibility of it existing, and is also extremely expensive and time consuming to make. So what's the logical easy choice? Create lines in the ground that are easy to follow. It's an undertaking to be sure, but it's definitely the logical step.
We're not dealing with 'contacting' otherworldly beings or advanced cultures. We're dealing with lines etched into the ground, well enough that they didn't have to routinely re-etch them (the last part is speculative.), that pointed you in the direction you needed to go. If you had a load of stones heading from the quarry to the town you take this road until it meets this road and follow that road until it meets this landmark from which you turn left and follow the final road until you reach the town.
Going to the market? Take this road to this junction and turn right, follow that road until you get to the end and take the intersecting line east until you reach the market center. Congratulations! We're still doing this same thing today, only now our roads curve and our maps are digitally available to anyone for free. As well, we travel many times faster down our roads so curves, bends, direction changes, etc. aren't as much of an issue for us. Straight lines save time and keep accurate headings.

Tsurugi's picture

Yes. It can be done with relatively simple physical tools. The mental or conceptual tools required are not as simple, however. Math. Astrogation. Orienteering. Et cetera.....

I'm not saying ancient man was incapable of understanding those concepts. However, I do think they do not arise without context.

That is what makes sites such as this so interesting, imo.

Hi,

The ancients druids (So Called), made their stone circles 10s of thousands of yrs ago, with high precision to stars etc. IF you can do that with a Set square, they drill a hole at correct alignment, then straight lines are simple. Do a section of say 250 Metres, use string plumb line, all ancient tech still used today.

NOT saying it isn't highly difficult, but with right knowledge/tools can be done.

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