Ancient artists

There is a scene in Indiana Jones and the crystal skull where Jones’ airplane flies over what seems to be vast drawings on the ground. Jones is in South America flying over Peru, the location of the Nazca lines. He refers to them as “lines only the Gods can read”.

The Nazca lines are geoglyphs(large drawings/art made using natural elements) made by the Nazca people over a 1000 years ago. They consist of many huge drawings, ranging from birds to insects to geometric figures in the desert in southern Peru. And their method of creation is fairly simple and smart. They were created by pushing aside the red pebbles that lie on the surface of the Nazca desert and exposing the much lighter grey soil below it. Clear the pebbles systematically over a big area and you have a Nazca line. The lines are located in a dry region, one that does not encounter forces like strong winds, rain showers and floods. That is one of the main reasons the lines have managed to survive for so long.

The reasons for the creation of the lines have been looked into by a lot of historians over the years. It was suggested by historian Paul Kosok and mathematician Maria Reiche that the lines were markers to astronomical objects and constellations. Archeologist Johan Reinhard proposed that the lines were related to religious practices associated with availability of water.

Global warming and other climatic changes have brought about a lot of variation in global climate over the years. The changing climate over the Nazca desert poses a huge threat to the lines from rain and wind. The regional climate has been exceptionally stable for a long time and that’s what aided the lines in being preserved. Change the climatic conditions and there’s a problem.

The Nazca lines are great examples of ancient engineering. A fascinating collection of a spider, a triangle, a pelican and flowers among others put together, standing the test of time and fascinating one and all.