First Published in Indian Express on 20.05.1989
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
Believe it or not! Some mysterious, interesting and elaborate designs are found in the
These mysterious lines conveying a definite data were said to have been drawn in the Peru desert almost 2000 to 3000 years ago. This is an indication of the meagre quantum of culture and civilisation that might have been taken by Europeans there subsequently. Europeans, wherever they had gone, at the most would have been able to pass on a culture of their level. Until 500 years ago, they did not even know about the movement of the stars.
Chile is adjacent to Peru on the south. The
Examples of early life and civilisations with superior intelligence higher than that of the Europeans are numerous. With the increasing domination of Europeans the old civilisations withered away and in their place new ones came in. The area in Peru, where these peculiar drawings are seen is called “Nazca Pampas”. Nazca is the name referred to the culture identified on the southern coast of present day Peru during the early intermediate period. Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.
A tribe by name “Incas” lived there. Even now they are known by that name. The Spanish who went to
Coming to the “Desert Calendar” it appears that there might have been an “Astroport” at the Nazca Pampas. The total area covered by the designs there, is more than 500 square metres and “As far as the Eye can see”. Moreover, the complete figures can be seen only from a minimum altitude of 500 meters. It would have been technically impossible for the Nazcas to compose such large-scale designs without an overall aerial view. This could have been through an aircraft or a similar object. Does that mean that the Nazcas constructed man carrying kites?
The tangle of lines, tracks and figures that pattern the desert floor appears to be the work of a highly qualified geometrician. Moreover, the lines are arranged wherever necessary by pebbles containing iron and iron oxides. The pebbles, dark in colour, retain heat absorbed by the ground during the day to form a curtain of hot air which forces the hot winds away and protect the lines by keeping the wind blow sand from falling on them. The night mist that dampens the soil makes the pebbles stick to the ground.
The puzzles of lines are infinite. The design consists of hundreds of triangular, quadrangular, trapezoidal runways covering huge flat areas and running straight across narrow rises, deep ravines and dried up riverbeds. Who would have formed all these mysterious lines, shapes, and figures which look like sand scrawls of a giant hand in the desert at Nazca and for what reason? What does it indicate? Is it an astronomical calendar? Or a star map or a weather chart? It still remains a million dollar question to which scientists and astronomers are trying to find an answer.
There are many who imagine that they were made by unknown extraterrestrial beings that came to earth some thousands of years ago. Most archaeologists are of the opinion that Nazca drawings are an astronomical calendar. Some even feel that heavenly bodies especially Jupiter, Venus and Mercury were made to work out the calendar. May be they should come again on an “Unidentified Flying Object’ (UFO) landing on some “Astroport” at Nazca Pampas and explain to us about these drawings! None can unfold the puzzle!
The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, llamas, and lizards. The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the ubiquitous reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than seventy are zoomorphic designs of animals such as birds, fish, monkey or human and jaguar figures. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but in general they ascribe religious significance to them. The geometric ones could indicate the flow of water or be connected to rituals to summon water. The spiders, birds, and plants could be fertility symbols. Other possible explanations include: irrigation schemes or giant astronomical calendars.
The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient Geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. Geoglyphs resemble Motifs. They were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as one of the special cultural or physical significant places. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states parties which are elected by their General Assembly.
As of 2011, 936 sites are listed: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 States Party. Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites to date with 47 sites inscribed on the list. Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state. However, UNESCO considers it as a World Heritage Site in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
There are about 30 such UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Notable among them are the Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Ellora Caves, The Red Fort, Qutub Minar and so on. None from Andhra Pradesh!
Archeologists, ethnologists and anthropologists have studied the ancient Nazca culture and the complex to try to determine the purpose of the lines and figures. One theory is that the Nazca people created them to be seen by their gods in the sky or the phenomenon could be related to astronomy and cosmology. The lines could have been intended to act as a kind of observatory, to point to the places on the distant horizon where the sun and other celestial bodies rose or set. There is however, insufficient evidence to support such an astronomical explanation.