Nazca Lines: Ancient Mysteries Carved into the Earth
Deep in the arid desert plains of southern Peru lie the Nazca Lines, an extraordinary array of massive geoglyphs that have intrigued and baffled researchers for centuries. These intricate and colossal designs etched into the earth’s surface continue to evoke a sense of wonder and awe. In this article, we delve into the mysteries surrounding the Nazca Lines, exploring their origin, purpose, and the enduring fascination they hold for archaeologists, historians, and curious minds around the world.
The Nazca Lines encompass hundreds of perfectly straight lines and complex, detailed figures, stretching across an expansive area of approximately 500 square kilometers. The designs range from simple geometric shapes to intricate depictions of animals, plants, and humanoid forms. The precision and scale of these ancient creations, often measuring hundreds of meters in length, are astonishing, particularly considering they were crafted by the Nazca civilization over 2,000 years ago.
The sheer size and intricacy of the Nazca Lines have left researchers wondering about the methods employed by the Nazca people in their construction. How did they achieve such precision without the aid of modern technology or aerial perspectives? Various theories propose that the Nazca people used simple tools, ropes, and basic surveying techniques, archaeological surveys have found wooden stakes in the ground at the end of some lines, which supports this theory. One such stake was carbon-dated and was the basis for establishing the age of the design complex. But that has not while others speculate the involvement of sophisticated methods that remain unknown to us today.
The true purpose behind the creation of the Nazca Lines continues to elude researchers, spawning a multitude of theories and conjectures. Some suggest that the lines served as sacred pathways or ritualistic sites, allowing the Nazca people to communicate with deities or celestial beings. In 1985, archaeologist Johan Reinhard published archaeological, ethnographic, and historical data demonstrating that worship of mountains and other water sources predominated in Nazca religion and economy from ancient to recent times. He theorized that the lines and figures were part of religious practices involving the worship of deities associated with the availability of water, which directly related to the success and productivity of crops. He interpreted the lines as sacred paths leading to places where these deities could be worshiped. The figures were symbols representing animals and objects meant to invoke the aid of the deities in supplying water.Others propose that they functioned as giant calendars, aligning with astronomical events such as solstices and equinoxes. Another intriguing theory suggests that the Nazca Lines were utilized in agricultural rituals, where they acted as markers for water flow or played a role in fertility ceremonies.
The Nazca Lines were first mentioned in Pedro Cieza de León’s book in 1553, where he described them as trail markers. Luis Monzón, in 1569, reported seeing ancient ruins in Peru, including the remains of “roads.” While partially visible from nearby hills, it was not until the twentieth century that Peruvian military and civilian pilots officially reported the lines. In 1927, archaeologist Toribio Mejía Xesspe stumbled upon them during a hike and discussed them at a conference in Lima in 1939.
In-depth study of the Nazca Lines began with Paul Kosok, an American historian, who flew over them in 1940-41 while studying ancient irrigation systems. He discovered a bird-shaped figure and observed lines converging on the horizon during the winter solstice. Kosok, along with archaeologist Richard P. Schaedel and mathematician/archaeologist Maria Reiche, proposed that the figures were astronomical markers, indicating the rising of the sun and celestial bodies on significant dates. Numerous experts, including Phyllis Pitluga, an astronomer, studied the alignments of the figures. Pitluga suggested that the giant spider figure represented the constellation Orion, with three straight lines tracking the changing declinations of Orion’s Belt stars. However, her analysis was criticized for not considering the other lines of the figure, as noted by Dr. Anthony F. Aveni.
Erich von Däniken, a Swiss writer, believed in extraterrestrial visitations and connected archaeological sites like the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, and Easter Island to aliens. In his book “Chariots of the Gods?” (1968), he theorized that the Nazca Lines were landing sites for UFOs, created by aliens as navigational aids and landing pads. Von Däniken claimed the lines resembled a modern airport, offering evidence of extraterrestrial activity. He also proposed that ancient civilizations were influenced by astronauts from other worlds, Sanskrit literature describes a story in which an aircraft landed on Earth, and the local people watched in amazement as “human-like beings with golden, shimmering skins” walked, mined for metals and then flew away in their ship. These ancient astronauts supposedly soon returned where they built landing tracks and then eventually left forever. The amazed Native Americans then considered Nazca a place of pilgrimage and generations of their people built more figures and runways as an invitation for gods to return, but they never returned. Scientists and archaeologists, including Maria Reiche, dismissed his ideas as absurd.
The Paracas culture possibly influenced the Nazca Lines. Drones found 25 Paracas geoglyphs in Palpa province, predating the Nazca lines by a thousand years. These geoglyphs differ in subjects and locations, with some on hillsides. Peruvian archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo Butters indicates that many of these newly discovered geoglyphs represent warriors. Its pertinent to mention that the Paracas is the same group that some believe created the well-known geoglyph known as the Paracas Candelabra.
The discovery of 143 new geoglyphs on the Nazca Pampa and in the surrounding area was announced in 2019 by Yamagata University and IBM Japan. One of these was found by using machine learning-based methods.Lines forming the shape of a cat were discovered on a hill in 2020. The figure is on a steep slope prone to erosion, explaining why it had not previously been discovered until archaeologists carefully studied the image.Drones are revealing sites for further research.
The number of known Nazca geoglyphs amounted to 358 in 2022. Drones are now being used to assist the anthropologists researching the area and are expected to enable them to discover many more.
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the Nazca Lines is their intended audience. The intricate and detailed designs can only be fully appreciated from an aerial vantage point, leading researchers to ponder how the Nazca people could have seen and appreciated their own creations. Did they possess knowledge of hot air balloons or other forms of flight? Or were these lines intended as offerings to the gods, unseen by human eyes but visible to divine entities?
The Nazca Lines stand as a testament to the remarkable creativity and ingenuity of the ancient Nazca civilization. The mysteries surrounding their creation and purpose continue to inspire speculation and ignite the imaginations of researchers and adventurers alike. As we gaze upon these enigmatic figures etched into the desert, we are reminded of the enduring allure of the unknown and the profound mysteries that lie beneath the surface of human history. The Nazca Lines remain an everlasting enigma, inviting us to unravel their secrets and offering glimpses into a past that still holds countless wonders.
Francoise Gilot,with And without Picasso
Renowned painter and one of Picassos muses Françoise Gilot, known for her acclaimed memoir documenting her tumultuous ten-year relationship with Pablo Picasso, passed away on June 6th 2023 at the age of 101.
Bornon 26 November 1922 Francoise Gilot’s artistic journey began early, nurtured by her mother and grandmother. At just five years old, she was captivated by painter Emile Mairet at her grandmother’s party. Gilot’s father became friends with Mairet, leading to frequent visits to his studio. Her artistic education started at six, guided by her mother in watercolor and India ink, emphasizing intentionality over erasers. At 21, she encountered Picasso, whose cubist influence shaped her own distinct style, favouring organic figures.
Gilot encountered Pablo Picasso when she was 21 years old, and he was 61. Their initial meeting occurred in a restaurant in the spring of 1943, which led to Gilot moving in with him in 1946. They spent nearly a decade together, their lives deeply intertwined with art. Picasso painted La femme-fleur, and Henri Matisse, an old friend who admired Gilot, expressed his intention to create a portrait of her featuring a pale blue body and leaf green hair.
Some art historians suggest that Gilot’s artistic career was curtailed due to her relationship with Picasso. When she left him, Picasso allegedly instructed art dealers not to acquire her artwork. However, Gilot herself expressed that being continually associated with Picasso was an injustice to her identity as an artist.
Picasso and Gilot never married but had two children together. Picasso promised to love and care for them. Their son, Claude, was born in 1947, followed by their daughter, Paloma, in 1949. Throughout their 10-year relationship, Gilot faced harassment from Picasso’s legal wife, Olga Khokhlova, a former Russian ballet dancer, and also experienced physical abuse from Picasso himself.
In 1964, 11 years after their separation, Gilot co-authored the book “Life with Picasso” with art critic Carlton Lake. Despite Picasso’s unsuccessful legal attempts to prevent its publication, the book became a bestseller, selling millions of copies in numerous languages. As a consequence, Picasso chose to sever all ties with Claude and Paloma. The profits from the book were utilized by Gilot’s children in their legal pursuit to claim inheritance rights as Picasso’s offspring
Despite losing her early works during World War II, Gilot’s artistic reputation has soared. Notably, her painting “Paloma à la Guitare” fetched $1.3 million at Sotheby’s in 2021. Her esteemed artwork now graces esteemed institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Centre Pompidou.