by Robin Edgar
from TheNazcaLines Website


Nazca Geoglyphs and the Eclipse - "Eye in the Sky" that Inspired Them

"While Nasca’s trapezoids and lines seem to exhibit some organization, the large drawings of animals and plants defy all explanation.”

Noted archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni

- in Archaeology magazine May/June 2000

The ancient Nazca culture of southern Peru is probably most renowned for the mysterious lines and geoglyphs that it inscribed on the high desert plain in the region of Nazca, beginning over two millennia ago. These imposing lines, which extend for hundreds of meters, and monumental images of birds, spiders, monkeys, fish, flowers or rosettes and other natural forms are best seen by eyes that are high above them in the sky.


It is in fact very difficult, indeed in most cases quite impossible, to properly view these extensive lines and prodigious geoglyphs from ground level. Modern archaeologists only rediscovered these ancient geoglyphs after commercial pilots who had flown over them in the late 1930’s reported their existence.

What phenomenon could possibly have inspired the ancient Nazca Indians to create these tremendous works of art, most of which are invisible to human eyes that are not airborne? Numerous, and quite diverse, theories have been advanced in an effort to explain the reason for the construction of these gigantic lines and geoglyphs.


These theories range from the comparatively conservative theories of modern archaeologists to Erik von Daniken’s original, but highly controversial, proposal that the lines of Nazca were landing strips for ancient visitors from outer space while the geoglyphs served as signals to these space alien ‘gods’. Ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly, it is this latter ‘hypothesis’ that was in fact quite instrumental in bringing the existence of the mysterious Nazca Lines to widespread public attention.

One theorist even proposed that the Nazca Indians were able to construct primitive hot air balloons from which they could observe the lines and animal figures. This theorist actually succeeded in building and launching a hot air balloon, Condor I, which was constructed from basic materials that are believed to have been available to the ancient Nazca Indians. Even if this theory is not just a lot of ‘hot air’ it does not in any way decipher the meaning and significance of the massive lines and figures, nor does it provide any reason as to why they were constructed in the first place.

I am proposing that the ancient Nazca Indians who constructed these mysterious lines and spectacular geoglyphs in the desert of southern Peru most probably never actually viewed them. Indeed, I have good reason to doubt that the Nazca geoglyphs were ever intended to be observed by human eyes, or the alien eyes of “ancient astronauts” for that matter. On the contrary the Nazca lines were most likely intended to be viewed solely by the eyes of the sky dwelling gods that the Nazca Indians quite evidently believed in.


The Nazca Lines, and more particularly the wonderful animal geoglyphs, are certainly ancient religious art. The geoglyphs served not only as an impressive offering of art honouring these sky dwelling gods but very possibly were even intended to be ‘signals’ to these sky gods in an effort to communicate with them.

A sampling of Nazca geoglyphs

While Erik von Daniken was, in my view, not out of line in suggesting that the various geoglyphs served as signals to the gods of the ancient Nazcas it is quite unnecessary for these sky gods to be prehistoric visitors from outer space. Indeed there is no solid evidence to support his thesis that the Nazca Lines were landing strips for their space vehicles and plenty of evidence that serves to thoroughly invalidate this proposal.

It is a well established fact that many ancient cultures, no doubt including the ancient Nazca culture of Peru, believed that the sun and moon were sky dwelling gods. The Inca civilization of Peru that superseded the Nazca culture most certainly held this belief. A variation of this almost universal ancient religious belief was that the sun and/or moon were the sky traversing eyes of an otherwise quite invisible Supreme Being. This belief persisted in Western civilization until comparatively recent times; for instance, the sun is frequently referred to as the “eye of heaven” etc. in the works of William Shakespeare and other 16th and 17th century writers and poets.


A radiant “All Seeing Eye of God” that was clearly solar in nature (albeit frequently depicted within a triangle) was a popular symbol of God’s omniscience in the 18th century. This symbol hovers over the altars of Baroque churches and appears on coins of the period. A version of this symbol, which was adopted by Freemasons, is incorporated into the Great Seal of the United States of America. It is still printed on the reverse side of every single U.S. one dollar bill. Even today there are various cultural and religious traditions that preserve the ancient belief that the sun actually is, or, perhaps more realistically, symbolically represents, the “All Seeing Eye” of God.

There is a very good reason for this belief. It is a readily verifiable fact that the total solar eclipse bears an uncanny similarity to an “eye in the sky.” The so-called “hole in the sky” formed by the black disc of the moon mimics the pupil of the eye while the myriad rays and filament like streamers of the sun’s corona distinctly resemble the iris of an eye. This has been metaphorically referred to as the “Eye of God” by modern astronomers.


I have very good reason to believe that the lines and geoglyphs drawn by the ancient Peruvians on the Nazca plateau were created primarily for the viewing pleasure of our resplendent sun and serene moon. I have even better reason to believe that the creation of the Nazca Lines was directly inspired by the genuinely remarkable series of solar eclipses that occurred over southern Peru during the time period over which the Nazca Lines were created.

Artists depictions of a total solar eclipse and the human eye
(Human eye illustration from the book ‘The Human Body’ by Jonathan Miller and David Pelham)

I am convinced that the Nazca Lines were meant to be seen by the sun and moon who were considered to be gods throughout the ancient world. More particularly, however, I have every reason to believe that the Nazca geoglyphs were directly inspired by and were also intended to be viewed by a third, and supremely important, sky god of the ancient Americas. I am referring of course to the celestial jaguar god that was believed by numerous pre-Columbian cultures to devour the sun and moon during their respective eclipses.


I have no doubt that the ancient Nazcas at some point perceived the “Eye in the Sky” (or what modern eclipse observers metaphorically refer to as the “Eye of God”) that briefly gazes down upon the Earth from the darkened heavens during what is certainly the most awe inspiring of regularly occurring celestial phenomenon known to man, the total eclipse of the sun. It is possibly an attempt to placate and propitiate this truly magnificent, yet doubtlessly terrifying, ‘radiant divine eye’ that caused the ancient Nazcas to create the monumental works of religious art that have graced the pampas of Southern Peru for many centuries.

Maria Reiche, who has made the study of the Nazca lines her life work, discovered that some of the more prominent straight lines, particularly some of those forming the sides of elongated triangles and quadrangles, are aligned with solar and lunar rising and setting positions. Some of these lines could indeed have been used for the purpose of predicting both solar and lunar eclipses. Theodore von Oppolzer’s ‘Canon der Finsternisse’ is an exhaustive chronology of solar and lunar eclipses. It contains numerous maps that chart the approximate paths of all solar eclipses from about 1200 BCE to the end of the 21st century.


These eclipse charts clearly show that several remarkable series of total and annular solar eclipses occurred in close succession over southern Peru beginning with a period that somewhat predates with the construction of the earliest known Nazca lines and geoglyphs. This amazingly high incidence of solar eclipses lasted throughout the duration of time over which the Nazca Lines were created. The extraordinarily high incidence of solar eclipses charted on these maps in the region of southern Peru during the period in which the Nazca culture flourished should serve to validate my thesis that the Nazca lines were made in direct response to the remarkable “eye in the sky” that is clearly perceivable during a total solar eclipse.

It is a general rule of astronomy that a total solar eclipse will, on average, occur in any one location once every four hundred years. Various versions of this statement are repeated ad nauseum in numerous astronomy books, both popular works and academic textbooks. The statement is quite misleading, indeed it has led many people to believe that total solar eclipses are very rare occurrences and unlikely to be witnessed by any human being during their lifetime unless they embark on an expedition to see one.

The misleading word is “average.” Allow me to say that there is nothing that can be described as “average” when it comes to total solar eclipses. Total solar eclipses are cyclical events and their occurrence follows a highly predictable pattern and always occurs at the new moon when the moon is directly aligned between the Earth and its sun. ‘On average’ a total eclipse of the sun occurs somewhere in the world every year and a half, however two total solar eclipses may occur within as little as 11 months. The total solar eclipse is visible within the path that the penumbra of the moon’s shadow traces upon the surface of the Earth during totality, the time when the moon completely occults the sun.


The diameter of the penumbra is about 150 miles and the shadow traced on the surface of the Earth during totality extends for at least several hundred miles. Typically it is a couple of thousand miles long. The area within which human eyes may witness a total solar eclipse and perceive the proverbial ‘eye in the sky’ is thus quite large. “On average” it would be about two or three hundred thousand square miles in area.

Needless to say, in that they are usually well over a thousand miles long, the ‘tracks’ of total solar eclipses regularly overlap each other at various points of the globe. The overlapping of eclipse tracks can occur as little as eleven months apart. Within a comparatively small geographic area, lets say 100 miles by 100 miles, several total solar eclipse tracks can overlap each other within a decade or two. It is thus quite possible for a single individual, living a reasonably long lifetime, to witness several total solar eclipses during their life without ever leaving their home. As long as their home is located in one of these areas that might be termed ‘eclipse sweet spots’.

A very good example of this would be the East coast of Angola where two total solar eclipses will be witnessed within eleven months of each other. The first occurs, quite appropriately, on the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice June 21st, 2001, and it is followed by a total solar eclipse on December 4, 2002 A.D.

Imagine the impact that witnessing several total solar eclipses within a relatively short time span, let’s say two generations, would have on an ancient sun worshipping culture such as the ancient Nazcas. I expect that you will agree that this unique, and genuinely awe inspiring celestial phenomenon, would have had a tremendous influence on the religious beliefs, and thus the religious practices and religious iconography etc., of any such culture. There is plenty of evidence that it most certainly did.

Almost all respected archaeological authorities now agree that most of the Nazca Lines were drawn some time prior to 700 AD. Numerous wooden pegs that were found embedded in the earth along the Nazca lines and ancient Nazca pottery found buried as an offering at the intersections of some of the lines have been accurately dated by various methods, including radiocarbon (Carbon 14) analysis, to between 100 BCE and 550 AD.


Oppolzer’s Canon charts major solar eclipses occurring over the region of the Nazca lines in 151 BCE and 122 BCE. These eclipses were followed by a series of three major eclipses of the sun within a fifteen year period beginning in 97 BCE and thus coinciding with the construction of the earliest lines and geoglyphs drawn on the Nazca plateau.

An Annular Eclipse of the sun occurred in 97 BCE.
It was followed by a Total Solar Eclipse in 93 BCE.
All maps are from the ‘Canon of Eclipses’ by Theodor von Oppolzer

The solar eclipse of March, 97 BCE was either a total eclipse or a, very nearly total, annular eclipse. It was followed less than four years later by a total solar eclipse occurring in December of 93 BCE and yet another total solar eclipse in May, 82 BCE. I have very good reason to believe that this unusual series of total solar eclipses would have given ample opportunity for the Nazca Indians to observe this unique, spectacular, and awe-inspiring celestial phenomenon.


As a direct result of these observations they eventually become attuned to the fact that the total eclipse of the sun bears a striking and uncanny resemblance to a “radiant divine eye” staring down from the heavens. This awareness then inspired the Nazca Indians to commence the construction of the earliest lines and animal figures in response to the “eye in the sky” that they perceived during these eclipses.

One of the earliest Nazca geoglyphs depicts a gigantic human figure with very large circular eyes whose right hand points up to the heavens and whose left hand points down towards the ground. This figure, possibly the only human figure geoglyph created by the Nazcas, probably illustrates the ancient cosmological concept that what is above is reflected in that which is below,’ the ancient idea that the macrocosm formed by the sun, moon, and stars is reflected in the microcosm on the Earth below.


This human figure may be readily perceived to be indicating that that which is seen in the skies above is reflected in what is seen on the earth below. This would tend to support my contention that the Nazca Lines and figures were constructed in response to the remarkable visual phenomenon of the ‘eye in the sky’ that is manifested during a total solar eclipse.

Another early figure on the Nazca pampas is interpreted as a flower because it has several petal-like forms radiating outwards from a central disc. This flower-like figure has been partially obliterated by a massive quadrangle that was constructed over it at a later date. This being the fate of a number of the earlier Nazca figures. This apparent flower can just as readily be interpreted as a “rosette” which is a representation of a rayed sun and is a universal sun symbol found in all parts the world.


The “rosette” is a stylized depiction of the sun which incorporates elements that are seen only during a total solar eclipse, namely the many rays and streamers of the sun’s corona. Modern astronomers, including professionals, and other contemporary eclipse observers have repeatedly compared the totally eclipsed sun to a flower. The “petal-like” form of the coronal streamers was perceived by Victorian eclipse observers and has been reproduced in19th century scientific astronomical drawings of the corona. A rational comparison of 19th century drawings of total solar eclipses with various examples of the ubiquitous “rosette” symbol will quickly convince most reasonable, open-minded, people of the solar origin of the “rosette.”

This Nazca Lines “rosette” symbol was probably inspired by the flower-like appearance of the totally eclipsed sun

Annular eclipses occurred in southern Peru in 53 BCE, 27 AD, and 56 AD. This was followed by a full century without any solar eclipses until a total eclipse occurred somewhat to the north of the Nazca lines in 157 AD. An annular eclipse followed shortly thereafter in 160 AD and then two total eclipses took place within a year and a half, the first in June of 178 AD the second in November of 179 AD. The fact that these two total solar eclipses occurred in such rapid succession may have prompted a resurgence of line and animal figure ground drawings in the latter half of the 2nd century AD.

There was then a forty year hiatus until there was another total solar eclipse in April of 218 AD. This eclipse was followed by another total eclipse in July, 223 AD. Other major solar eclipses occurred in the region in the years 248, 301, 317, 342, and 370 AD. The total solar eclipses of April, 218 AD and February, 342, are shown to have occurred directly over the Nazca lines according to Theodore von Oppolzer’s charts of solar eclipse tracks. A modern computer program could no doubt generate more accurate data about the time and the track of the penumbra of all of the various solar eclipses that occurred in the region of the Nazca Lines but, regrettably, I do not have access to such an advanced astronomical program at this time.

A Total Solar Eclipse occurred near the Nazca Lines

soon after sunrise near the time of the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice in 317 AD.

While some of the cruder geoglyphs at Nazca were probably created before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth most archaeologists believe that their highest development was between the years 400 and 700 AD.


According to Theodore von Oppolzer’s Canon der Finsternisse less than seven major eclipses of the sun occurred within the greater region around the Nazca Lines in the 5th century AD (i.e. 411, 417, 421, 443,478, 483 & 497 AD); eight solar eclipses occurred in the 6th century AD (i.e. 504,523, 537, 544, 548, 558, 587 & 598 AD); and a truly remarkable thirteen solar eclipses darkened the skies over southern Peru in the 7th century AD (i.e. 609, 613, 617, 642, 645, 646, 652, 661, 667, 668, 688, 692 & 699 AD).

All of these major solar eclipses would have been potentially visible to the Nazca’s and their neighboring cultures. (i.e. Chavin, Chimu, Ica and Moche etc.)


We must not forget that there would quite likely have been some communication with other cultures to the north and south of Nazca. These ancient Peruvian cultures would also have been directly affected by the phenomenon of solar eclipses as is clearly evident from the images appearing on their pottery, textiles, and other artifacts.

A Total Solar Eclipse occurred near the Nazca Lines in 478 AD.
It was followed by another Total Solar Eclipse in 483 AD.
In 497 AD an Annular Eclipse occurred north of the Nazca Lines

and a Total Solar Eclipse occurred to the south of them.

Of the seven solar eclipses that occurred in the 5th century four were total and two of these passed directly over the Nazca lines according to von Oppolzer’s charts of solar eclipses. The first occurred on April 18, 478 (Julian calendar date), and it was followed by another on January 24, 483. That is two total eclipses of the sun within less than five years. It could thus be quite reasonably expected to have inspired the Nazca Indians to respond once again to this “eye in the sky” by constructing more of the, hopefully now somewhat less mysterious, lines and geoglyphs that are only clearly visible from high in the the air.

One does not need to be able to see such gigantic images from the air to be able create them any more than one needs to see the clover-leaf pattern of a modern highway overpass system to design and construct one. One simply needs to make a small scale drawing and then lay it out on a much larger scale on the desert floor using the most elementary, indeed rudimentary, surveying techniques. If you were stranded on a desert island that had a nice stretch of sandy beach would you have any difficulty marking out a large S.O.S. signal that was intended to be visible to search and rescue aircraft? Would you waste any time in doing so? I think not.


As it turns out, numerous wooden pegs have been found at various points along the Nazca lines. These wooden pegs were clearly used to trace out the Nazca Lines and gigantic figures. In ‘Art of the Incas’ by Henri Stierlin we read,

“To produce absolutely straight lines over such rugged ground the Nazcas must have had recourse to cords stretched between wooden pegs. The latter, many of which have been found in their original upright position, have given a radiocarbon date somewhere between AD 14 and 550. Indeed, no fewer than 300 such pegs have been discovered in the Great Rectangle alone, which measures 800 by 1000 meters.”

Knowing this it should then not only be possible, but also a relatively straightforward exercise, to determine which lines and figures were constructed after the two total solar eclipses of 478 and 483 by determining which figures and lines were associated with wooden pegs that date to the latter part of the 4th century AD. Other lines and figures could be correlated to earlier or later solar eclipses by using this method and a complete chronology of the construction of the Nazca Lines could be established from this data. I am assuming that this has not already been done.


It would then be a fairly simple matter to determine which of the Nazca Lines and geoglyphs were constructed following the aforementioned solar eclipses. It is possible that some lines may have been constructed in the periods intervening between solar eclipses if some of the lines were in fact used as a means of calculating when another solar eclipse might occur.

Henri Stierlin also notes that,

“The survival of what are relatively fragile artifacts over a period of 1,500 to 2,000 years must be attributed on the one hand to the total absence of rain and, on the other, to the surface covering of dark stones which by absorbing the heat and causing up-currents of air, keeps out the sand-laden windsand, by the same token, shifting sand dunes.”

A Total Solar Eclipse occurred near the Nazca Lines a general lack of heavy clouds in the region and thus better than average solar eclipse viewing conditions.

Eyes appear prominently on numerous examples of Nazca pottery. Eclipse-like or eye-like concentric circles abound on the clothing, pottery, and warriors’ shields of the Nazca Indians and those of their close neighbors, the Paracas and Ica Indians. A late-Nazca period jar is formed to resemble a man whose robe is completely covered with large concentric circles that closely resemble the total solar eclipse or eyes. Another Nazca figurine has large white seven pointed stars surrounding darker, eye-like, concentric circles depicted on its cheeks, directly under the eyes. A serpent depicted with a head at each end, arches over the ellipsoid eyes of the figurine.


The seven pointed stars distinctly resemble some 19th century astronomical drawings of the total solar eclipse and I do not think that it is in any way insignificant that they appear in close conjunction with the eyes. The serpent is a creature that is associated with the eclipse in many cultures since it represents the cyclical nature of celestial events in its sinuous movement and also because the chromosphere that surrounds the moon during totality resembles a crimson serpent with red rearing heads.

Starry-eyed Nazca figurine with a drawing of total solar eclipse

A Nazca bowl depicts a face which sports under each eye a marking that distinctly resembles the outstretched wings on either side of a bird-like tail. The tail projects from directly below the pupil of the eye, which is represented as a black cube extending from top to bottom of a white ellipsoid. The wings spread out on either side of the tail reaching almost to the outer edge of the ellipsoid eyes. It is possible that these markings are intended to represent tears but even if they do I do not think that their similarity to the Egyptian and Mesopotamian winged disc symbol is purely accidental.


It is equally possible, indeed in my opinion more it is far more likely, that these “wings” represent markings that the Nazca Indians painted on to their faces for decoration. Decoration that was intended to symbolize the “eye in the sky,” the “winged disk,” the total eclipse of the sun.

On one example of Nazca pottery, parrot-like birds surround the rim of a jar that has a human face with very pronounced eyes gracing its side. The eyes of these “parrots” are so exaggerated that the parrots have virtually no heads, just a large perfectly circular eye sporting a small beak, the eye being attached to outspread wings and a tail.


These “parrots” bear a striking resemblance to some Mesopotamian versions of the “ring with wings” symbol where the ring or sun disc hovers over, or is supported by, the wings rather than enclosed between them. I believe that it is quite likely that these parrot like figures might also have been intended to symbolically represent the total eclipse of the sun.

Compare the Nazca Lines headless bird figure (which appears to contain a human face within the bird’s “body”)

to the Assyrian winged sun symbol on the right.

Now compare both of these to the Mayan Sun God pectoral below left...
Photo of the Nazca Lines Sun Bird by Marilyn Bridges from her book ‘Markings’

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words... or more!

It should be obvious by now that the headless bird with the human face in its “body”

(which up to now has been interpreted as a colibri)

is in fact a Nazca culture representation of their Sun God

whose bird-like form was clearly manifested during some total solar eclipses.

Similar birds, whose heads are represented as concentric circles with beaks attached, appear on the textiles, pottery, and other art works of other Peruvian cultures. A very interesting example of Ica fabric depicts parrots with normal size eyes and proper heads flanked on either side by human figures wearing “crowns” bearing eyes and plumes. These plumes are very reminiscent of the polar; bird-tail-like rays of the “winged sun” corona that is characteristic of the sunspot minima phase. In fact many modern astronomers refer to the polar rays as plumes in their scientific literature.

Some of these figures are accompanied by a circular “Maltese cross,” which is another universal symbol that I have shown to have been used to depict the total solar eclipse by both the Assyrians and Moche Indians of Northern Peru. Interspersed between these human figures are completely abstract circular eyeballs sprouting jagged, reverse Shaped, streamers. To further underline that these figures are almost certainly solar eclipse inspired they are in turn flanked by square crosses containing an eye at their centre, yet another almost universal symbol inspired by the total eclipse of the sun.

Nazca bird with distinctly solar eye-spots

Another example that appears on pottery from the Lambayeque culture of northern Peru which thrived between 700 to 1200 AD would pretty much confirm that these types of bird figures allude to the total solar eclipse. Not only is the head of this bird composed of concentric circles, its body is a large circle the centre of which is a black pupil-like dot whose diameter is one third of the diameter of the outer circle. This ‘pupil’ is surrounded by a substantial white ring from which projects four bars in the form a letter ‘X.’


Wave-like forms fill the spaces between the bars of the cross on the horizontal or ‘equatorial’ axis to the left and right of the ‘pupil’ while the upper and lower or ‘polar’ spaces are left void. The similarity of the bird’s body to both an eye and the total solar eclipse is immediately obvious. There can be very little doubt that this strange bird is a solar eclipse symbol. The use of the X-like cross containing a wave-like pattern between its arms only serves to underline this proposition.

Lambayeque culture sun-bird figure

On another example of Nazca pottery bizarre winged cyclopean beings encircle the bottom and top of a flared bowl, on either side of what appears to be a serpent. A rayed triangle graces the top of an ellipsoid eye and a grinning mouth encircles the bottom of the eye. Wings extend from either side of the triangle-eye-mouth part of these beings and what appears to be a tongue forms their lower body, although it does not project from between the lips of the mouth but rather extends from below the lower lip. Flame-like projections extend from the lower part of the tongue where one would normally expect the legs of a bird to be depicted if the drawing was a representation of a bird.


A bird-like tail projects downward from the tip of the tongue to complete these winged “Cyclops” figures. It is immediately clear that these figures do not represent any known form of bird but that rather they depict a mythical being. These figures bear a close resemblance to a Peruvian mythical being that modern anthropologists have dubbed, “The Oculate Being,” more simply, “The Eyed Being.”

My interpretation of these figures is as follows: The rayed triangle represents the sun and the divinity of the being just as it does in other cultures. The grinning mouth that is below the eye could represent the moon in its crescent phase as it is seen in the days preceding and following a solar eclipse. It may also mean that the total solar eclipse “speaks” of God, that the Nazcas may have considered the solar eclipse to be the “creative word” of God just as the ancient Egyptians did.

The eye between the triangle and the lips represents the conjunction of the sun and moon in the total solar eclipse as the ‘eye in the sky’ while the wings and tail reflect the bird-like appearance of the corona at sunspot minimum phase. The tongue that forms the lower body of this being most probably represents the “speech” or symbolic communication aspect of the solar eclipse. It may also simply be inspired by the spectacular flaming red prominences that are visible only during a total solar eclipse. This remarkable phenomenon has been described as “flaming tongues of fire” by modern eclipse observers. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that the projections that extend from the tongue in place of bird’s legs closely resemble depictions of solar prominences.

One may take the interpretation of the symbolism of the lips and tongue that form the body of this “Oculate Being” a step further and, since I have probably already over- stepped the bounds of many people, I will rush in where angels fear to tread and go the extra distance. It is quite possible that the lips are also a symbol of the female sex organ, the vagina, particularly if they do in fact represent the moon since the moon was firmly established as a feminine symbol, indeed a female deity, by the Incas.


The tongue would then be phallic of course and associated with the sun which was a male symbol to the Incas and most probably to the surrounding Peruvian cultures. The sexual union or “marriage” of sun and moon would thus be clearly implied in this interpretation of the symbolism of these “Cyclopean,” winged, “Oculate Beings” and would further tend to link them with the total eclipse of the sun.

I honestly do not think that this is taking it too far, at least in so far as the beliefs of the Nazca Indians may be concerned. Numerous aboriginal myths refer to the total eclipse of the sun as a sexual union between the male sun and female moon, although in a few cases, Eskimo and Cherokee myths for example, the moon is male and the sun is female. On a Nazca drum made from pottery several human figures are depicted, each with a white vertical ellipsoid eye in the place of their navel and a triangular eye either covering or representing their genitalia.


Even the mouths of these figures resemble eyes since they are depicted as being white horizontal ovals with an inner black horizontal slit in stark contrast with the dark skin colour of their faces. Clearly the eye was of paramount symbolic importance to the Nazca Indians and just as clearly it was a symbol that was closely associated with sexual reproduction, fertility, and birth.

Nazca figures with gazing navels!
To say nothing of genetalia. . .

I am not the first person to postulate that some of the animal figures depicted on Nazca pottery were mythical beings that were inspired by the celestial phenomenon of the total eclipse of the sun. Gerald S. Hawkins, who was one of the very first astronomers to give serious credence to the theory that Stonehenge and other megalithic sites were astronomical calendars. He later studied the Nazca Lines to try to determine whether or not they had significant astronomical alignments.

In ‘Beyond StonehengeHawkins describes finding dozens of fragments of early Nazca culture polychrome pottery strewn amongst the Lines:

“We came across a patch of shards. Where the fragment was face up, the pattern was blackened by a thousand years of sun; face down, the pattern was as new. We dusted off the hundred pieces and reassembled the pot. It was the fierce jaguar head, the feline deity, the tiger-god, common to pre-Columbian religions. It was red- faced, white-eyed, with an orange tongue extended. The whiskers on close examination turned out to be pale faces with slit eyes and long extended hair.


Typical of the Nascan style, the jaguar wore a blue-gray, flat-brimmed, bowler-type hat... The Forest Indians worshiped a star which was a tiger in the sky. Its name was Chuquichinchay, according to Polo de Ondegardo.


The Chiriguani Indians still believe in Yagaurogui, a fabulous green tiger-god that eats the sun and moon during an eclipse. I recognized the feline on the bowl as the most powerful of the Peruvian earth-sky gods. The jaguar, the third form of the all-powerful sun-god, identified by ethnologists across the globe from Mesopotamia to the far Pacific. The jaguar, found buried, sunset-red, with 73 jade spots at the Mayan observatory of Chichen Itza. The jaguar - here on the blazing, sun-drenched desert longer than the life span of a civilization.”

The Nazca culture’s jaguar god of eclipses

I believe that Gerald Hawkins totally correct in his identification of the jaguar-god that is frequently depicted on Nazca pottery and textiles with the sun and moon devouring sky-god of South America. I might add that one of the primary reasons that the jaguar would be identified with the all-powerful sun god all around the globe is the pattern of eye-like spots on its fur. These eyespots are known in biological terminology as “oculli,” a word that traces its roots to the Latin word for eye.


This would again tend to confirm my contention that the Nazca Indians were perfectly aware of the eye-like appearance of the total solar eclipse and that the impressive lines and beautiful geoglyphs that they constructed were a direct response to this remarkable phenomenon. The fact that the Nazca version of the jaguar eclipse god almost invariably wears a head ornament or crown that resembles a white bird similar to the “Sun-Bird” that is clearly perceivable in the sun’s corona underlines the fact that the total solar eclipse had a profound impact on Nazca religious beliefs and religious iconography.

Nazca version of the jaguar eclipse-god

I believe that I have now presented sufficient evidence to convince all but the most skeptical reader that the Nazca Lines were almost certainly inspired by the genuinely remarkable visual phenomena that are readily perceivable during total solar eclipses.

First and foremost it is the totally eclipsed sun’s striking similarity in appearance to the pupil and iris of a “radiant divine eye” that inspired the Nazca Indians to create the no longer so mysterious lines and geoglyphs in the desert. It is evident that the Nazcas also perceived the bird-like form of the sun’s corona that is typically seen during eclipse that occur during the minimum phase of sunspot activity.


This Sun Bird is represented on their pottery, textiles and, as far as I am concerned, at least one of the bird geoglyphs at Nazca. I believe that my theory is one of the most rational explanations of the mystery as to why the Nazca Lines were created. I am confidant that further research of the Nazca culture, as well as the lines and geoglyphs that the Nazcas created, will generally tend to validate my theory rather than discredit it.



Nazca sun-bird headdress

Nazca sun-bird headdress

The clincher. . . a Nazca sun-bird headdress
with a clearly solar red disk at its centre.

Nazca Indians wearing a total solar eclipse inspired
eye motif on their head-dresses

Nazca ecliptic serpents with eclipse-eyes?

Nazca anthropomorphic sun/eclipse god?

Nazca winged-serpent/dragon-eye

Nazca dragon with sun-eye?

Nazca sun-bird headdress and winged-mouth with trophy heads

Nazca sun-bird headdress and winged-mouth with trophy heads

Nazca caduceus? (i.e. solar and lunar ecliptic paths intersecting) and winged serpent

Nazca anthropomorphic total solar eclipse inspired sun-cross

Nazca solar eclipse inspired dragon/cross?

Nazca Cyclopean sun symbols


Nazca “compound sun-eye symbols” most probably inspired by the “Eye of God”

that is clearly perceivable looking down from the sky during total solar eclipses.

This Nazca culture “compound sun/eye symbol” or “radiant divine eye” compares favourably

to the scientific astronomical drawing of a total solar eclipse and the Dowth petroglyph below.




This Nazca culture rayed or winged Cyclopean-eye
with mouth figure known as the Oculate Being was
most probably inspired by total solar eclipses

This Nazca culture anthropomorphic sun with protruding tongue that

was most probably inspired by solar prominences visible during total solar eclipses.

Nazca dragon? and sun-faces with
eyes ringing the circumference

The multi-rayed sun on this Nazca culture figure was almost certainly inspired by total solar eclipses. It is closely associated with the vagina and thus birth.
Solar eclipses were considered to be the sexual union or “marriage” of the sun
and the moon by many cultures including the Incas. The totally eclipsed sun
has frequently been described as a “hole in the sky” by modern astronomers.
Need I say more?

Nazca sun-bird/winged-eye (third eye) headdress
and winged-mouth

Nazca sun-bird headdress and winged-mouth with trophy heads

Peruvian sun-eye symbols

Peruvian ecliptic serpent with total solar eclipse inspired sun/eye symbols

Nazca winged-serpent (dragon) and many-eyed figure.
Both most probably inspired by solar eclipse phenomena.