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Nazca Lines - Ica
Just two hours from Ica, 50 square km of desert floor were covered centuries ago by vast drawings, figures of mammals, insects and deities.
The Nazca Lines, discovered in 1927, are the most extraordinary legacy left by a culture that flourished in 300 BC.
The lines are a series of complex designs, some up to 300 meters long which can only be seen in their true dimension from the sky, from an altitude of at least 1,500 feet.
The Nazca culture is not believed to have been capable of manned flight. But the question remains as to how they crafted the drawings, what technology they used and what purpose the lines served. Theories abound regarding these mysterious etchings, ranging from landing strips for aliens to a giant seismograph. The most probable theory is that of Maria Reiche, a German researcher who dedicated her life to studying the lines. Ms Reiche believed that the lines were part of a vast astronomic calendar whose figures marked different solar phases.
Ms Reiche, affectionately nicknamed the Angel of the Plains by the local inhabitants, was the first to discover the ancient technique of digging into the tough and dry desert floor and covering the track with stones brought from distant sites. The component of natural plaster existing in the area helped to preserve for thousands of years the drawings: the hummingbird, the spider, the condor and the monkey, among the more than 30 figures etched into the plain.
The Nazca Plains (there are four areas in total: Palpa, Ingenio, Nazca and Socos) lie in the department of Ica, some 460 km south of Lima. Like an embroidery of the gods, the lines that decorate the desert floor have been declared a Mankind Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the ancient mystery of the figures still waits to be unraveled.
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