Aircraft pilots flying over Peru’s Nazca desert in the 1930s were amazed to see huge drawings scratched into the landscape. These geoglyphs are called Nazca lines, after the ancient Nazcas who made them, and they are a fascinating tribute to a lost people. The geoglyphs cover a vast area of about 450 sq km (174 sq miles).
The mysterious lines are found on a coastal plain between two river valleys. There are hundreds of individual designs, and many more shapes and straight lines. They were created over several centuries, with some newer geoglyphs overlapping or obscuring older ones. In 2014 previously unknown geoglyphs were uncovered by a sandstorm.
Crafted between 500 BCE and 500 CE, the Nazca lines include images of animals, birds, and human-like figures. The reason for their construction remains uncertain. Some historians believe the lines were art created for the gods to enjoy, while others speculate that they were maps of underground water sources or an early form of calendar.
The Nazca people believed that worshipping the gods was key to survival. Their expertly crafted pottery features depictions of their gods, as well as nature spirits and mythical creatures. The Nazca had no writing system, so painting pots would have been one means of communicating their beliefs.