The Cessna putters along the stony runway, strong wind gusts pushing the tail off course. Just when I think the pilot will abandon the take-off, he guns the engine. I suck in my breath and grab the sides of the cracked leather seat I’m sitting on. With eyes squeezed shut, the flying tin can shudders beneath my feet and finally builds to a quaking crescendo. When we’re airborne, I pry one eye open and figure if I’m going to die, then it might as well be with a bird’s eye view of one of the ancient world’s unsolved mysteries-the Nazca Lines in Peru.
Luckily, the plane steadied and I made the journey safely, but I’d already forgotten my fear of dropping out of the sky like bird doo-doo once I got my first glimpse of the mysterious lines that can only be seen from the sky. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Nazca lines are situated on an arid plateau 250 miles (400km) south of Lima and date back to between 400 and 650 AD. There are hundreds of geometric shapes, which include drawings of hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, and llamas.
No one knows for sure who made the shallow lines, but scientists agree the lines were made by removing the red rocks on the surface of the earth to expose white rocks beneath. From the ground, these lines appear to be a mish-mash with no apparent rhyme or reason. But from the air, these odd patterns take on a totally different meaning. The two most well-known lines are the 295 feet (90m) high monkey an extravagantly curving tail and a condor with a 426 feet (130m) wingspan.
Discovered in 1927 by passengers on a commercial flight taking a new route, the Nazca Lines have baffled anthropologists, archaeologists, and ethnologists, as well as lay men. Many have tried to discover the who the creators are for what reason the lines exist, but to date, but to date, no one has any concrete answers. Here are just a few of the theories that have been put forward:
Maria Reiche, a German mathematician, spent her life studying the lines and claimed the indigenous people of Nazca created them as a way of communicating with their gods in the sky and also as an astronomical calendar for agriculture.
In the 1970’s, American Jim Woodman tested out his theory that the creators of the lines used balloons made of fine Peruvian cotton and reed baskets. He asked the Aymara Indians to make a hot air balloon that could have been used by the Nazca people from that time period. From the sky, he could see the lines clearly but without using technology, he couldn’t signal those on the ground as to where to move the rocks. His theory literally blew sky high when the balloon caught fire and the two pilots made a narrow escape.
Swiss author Erich von Däniken held a theory that a long time ago, aliens visited earth. After the aliens disappeared the Nazca people made the lines in the hope they would get the message and return. Many people like to poo-poo this theory, but those who believe it will very quickly point out the spaceman figure on a hill near the main lines.
Anthropologist William H. Isbell believes the kings of Nazca ordered the people to make these lines because if the commoners were working, then they couldn’t procreate. And if they couldn’t procreate then their inadequate stores of food would become strong enough to sustain a limited population.
Anthropologists Markus Reindel and David Johnson believe the lines are markers for subterranean water. The figures show the water stream, and zigzag lines show where they end. American Professor of Anthropology, Anthony Aveni has a similar belief but adds that the lines are connected with calendar, water, and mountain deities. It’s with this belief, he feels the Nazca people celebrated a water cult and used the figures and lines for ceremonial dances.
John D. Miller analyzes ancient buildings worldwide and has discovered they often hold a value of 177 feet. He bases his theories on several holy numbers and units of measurement and believes the Nazca Lines fit within the 177 feet model.
The Code of Carl Munck believes ancient sites around the world are precise positions on a global, coordinated system in relation to the position of the Great Pyramid of Giza. An ancient system called Gematria or Gematrian numbers are found in ancient myths and religions, including the Bible, and according to Gematria experts, the Nazca Lines fall neatly into this patterning.
Phew! And this is just a short list of theories. It’s very easy to Google to your heart’s desire to find out more. For me, floating with the birds, staring wide-eyed at the lines below, wondering who, why, and how, was an experience I’ll never forget. Maybe one day, we’ll find discover the real reason behind the Nazca Lines, but for now, I’m happy to analyze the theories and come to my own conclusion. And in case you’re wondering, I did kiss the ground when we landed.