Nazca Lines Panorama, Peru

The Nazca Lines are a group of very large trenches in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru. They were created between 500 BCE and 500 CE.

These geoglyphs are 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) deep, and between 0.4 and 1.1 km (.2 and .7 mi) wide. Their combined length is over 1,300 km (808 mi), and cover an area of about 50 sq km (19 sq mi).

They were made by scraping off the top layer of reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles to reveal a yellow-grey subsoil.

Some of the Nazca lines form shapes that are best seen from the air (~1,500 ft), though they are visible from the surrounding foothills and other high places. The shapes are usually made from one continuous line. The largest ones are about 370 m (1,200 ft) long.

The figures vary in complexity. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphic designs of animals such as a hummingbird, spider, fish, llama, jaguar, monkey, lizard, dog and a human. Other shapes include trees and flowers.

Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but in general, they ascribe religious significance to them. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Because of its isolation and the dry, windless, stable climate of the plateau, the lines have mostly been preserved naturally. Extremely rare changes in weather may temporarily alter the general designs. As of 2012, the lines are said to have been deteriorating because of an influx of squatters inhabiting the lands.

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Panoramas of the 200 most prominent Peru Points of Interest