Who created the lines?

The Nazca Indians are thought to have existed here between 200 AD and 600 AD, making them the most likely constructors in the eyes of orthodox archaeology. There is little doubt that the Nazca Indians were at least contemporaneous to the lines.


Much of their pottery used similar styles and motifs, and carbon dating associated with the lines appears to confirm this:

  • The desert heat causes mushrooms and lichens to grow under the stones. The organic matter on nine of these stones, presumably up-turned to make the lines, have been carbon-dated to between 190 BC and 600 AD.

  • A wooden stake at the end of a line was dated to roughly 525 AD.[3]

Lacking any evidence to suggest prior cultures living there, it is a reasonable hypothesis that gives these lines an uppermost age of just two thousand years.


But there still remains a possibility that others may have stopped there briefly to construct the lines, then disappeared without leaving any clues to who they were. Because of the impossibility of dating the lines themselves, it is possible that they could be even ten thousand years old!

But how could markings etched upon the desert this long ago remain virtually intact -undisturbed by the forces of weather and time? Well, this is a desert of stones, and the stones absorb heat. The resulting cushion of warm air helps protect the surface from the effects of wind. And it only drizzles rain here for an average of twenty minutes each year, with most years being completely dry, so there is zero erosion.


If there ever was some gradual deterioration of the lines, they may have been restored from time to time. Humans have a habit of repairing sites, especially if they have a ritual importance, such as the chalk figures in the English countryside.

How were the lines created?

  • The Spider, (46 meters long)

  • The Killer Whale, (65m)

  • The Monkey, (55m)

  • The Lizard, (180m)

  • The Guano Bird, (280m)

  • The Hummingbird, (50m)

  • The Pelican – an incredible 285 meters long

There are a total of 70 creatures on the Nazca Plain, as well as drawings of flowers and plants, deformed creatures and inanimate objects.


Is it possible that there were once 72? If so, this would create a mathematical connection to sites such as Angkor Wat which also use this number.

It is normal for the figures to be asymmetrical. Where they have fingers, the numbers will vary from limb to limb. An example this is the drawing of a weird being with two enormous hands, one normal and the other with only four fingers.


The monkey has three toes, with four fingers on one hand and five on the other. The dog has either an extra leg or an extra tail. The spider has one leg that is far longer than the other seven.[4]

There are also a few anthropomorthic figures situated on the slopes, the most famous being the 32 meter Astronaut (below left) and E.T, discovered by Eduardo Herran in 1982. Others include The Man with the Hat (below right) and the Executioner.


These are the most primitive figures at Nazca, and probably belong to a different time and purpose.



Maria Reiche thought that the Nazca artists prepared preliminary drawings on small six-foot-square plots, some of which are still visible near some of the larger figures.


The drawings were then subdivided into small sections, to be transposed onto the desert on a larger scale. Lines could easily have been formed by stretching a rope between two posts. A rope radiating from a central point could be used to create arcs and circles. In fact, the remains of posts have been discovered,[5] as well as holes in the centre of circles.


But their skilled use of relative positioning puzzled Maria.


In her book she wrote,

"Ancient Peruvians must have had instruments and equipment which we ignore and which together with ancient knowledge were buried and hidden from they eyes of the conquerors as the one treasure which was not to be surrendered." [6]

Maybe it wasn’t so difficult after all? In 1981, volunteers from the Earthwatch organization had a go at it.


Evan Hadingham, author of Lines of the Mountain Gods, participated and described the process:

“We selected a remote corner of the Nazca Valley for our experiment, far from any genuine ancient markings. Though the surface here was rougher than that of most parts of the pampa I had seen, consisting of coarse volcanic stones, it was easy to create the color contrast required for our line. All we had to do was peel away the crust of dark brown surface rocks to reveal the dusty yellow-white clay immediately beneath.

Our reconstruction began with a simple surveying procedure: we lined up two tall poles to coincide with a cleft in the distant horizon and then stretched the string between them. This formed one border of our line. To set out the other border, we measured off another pair of poles side by side with the first.

Within the avenue of string thus created, we spread ourselves out at arm’s length, one behind the other. The idea was that each volunteer would squat on the ground and gather up all the stones within arm’s reach into a single pile. This seemed an efficient way to collaborate on removing the surface. Moreover, it reproduced the small, regularly spaced stone heaps still visible inside many (presumably unfinished) cleared figures.

The final phase was to get rid of the piles by spreading the stones out along the borders of the line. At this stage it was useful to have “Chief Priest Aveni” standing by to point out where the edges of the line still appeared ragged or crooked. Eventually the strings were removed, and the result looked remarkably like the perfectly straight avenues we were emulating.”[7]

They went on to add a smooth spiral to the end of the line, and Hadingham wondered whether the skills required by the Nazcans were so amazing after all?

To take it one stage further, in 1982 Joe Nickell of Kentucky, USA, and some family members, successfully recreated the 440-foot-long condor in a field near their home. They took nine hours to plot and stake 165 points and connect them with twine.


The resulting image (they used white lime to mark it) was an exact replica.

“The method we chose was quite simple: We would establish a center line and locate points on the drawing by plotting their coordinates. That is, on the small drawing we would measure along the center line from one end (the bird's beak) to a point on the line directly opposite the point to be plotted (say a wing tip).


Then we would measure the distance from the center line to the desired point. A given number of units on the small drawing would require the same number of units - larger units - on the large drawing.

For this larger unit we used one gleaned by Maria Reiche from her study of the Nazca drawings and approximately equivalent to 12.68 inches. For measuring on the ground, we prepared ropes marked off with paint into these Nazca "feet," with a knot tied at each ten-"foot" interval for a total length of 100 units. To aid in accuracy in plotting on the ground, we decided to employ a "T" made of two slender strips of wood.


With this we could ensure that each measurement made from the center line would be at approximate right-angles to the line.”[8]

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[3] Table 4. Radiocarbon Dates. Middle Nazca L-268H San Jose Pampa: small post from intersection of ground lines, No 421 525 ± 80. William Duncan Strong, Paracas, Nazca, and Tiahuanacoid Cultural Relationships in South Coastal Peru, from American Antiquity, Volume XXII, Number 4, Part 2, April 1957, page 46. The Society for American Archaeology.

[4] It has been mentioned by other researchers that many of the creatures represented are not native to the area. The most striking example of this is the 45 meter long Spider. It was identified as a member of the rare genus Ricinulei, which is only found in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the Amazon Jungle. These spiders are only 5-10 mm in length. One leg is noticeably longer – it is a protrusible tube, and at its tip is the spider’s reproductive organ, normally only visible with the aid of a microscope.( first determined by Hawkins, Beyond Stonehenge, Arrow Books, London, 1977)

This information appears to signify an advanced ancient culture at work, but fails when inspected more closely. The only similarity between the spider figure and a Ricinulei is the extended leg. Otherwise the figure could be just a common local spider.

[5] Along some lines, the remains of posts have been found at roughly one-mile intervals. See McIntyre, Loren. 1975. :Mystery of the Ancient Nazca Lines." National Geographic (May): pages 716-28.

[6] Reiche, Maria. 1976. Mystery on the Desert (1968), rev. ed. Stuttgart: Privately printed.

[7] Evan Hadingham, Lines to the Mountain Gods: Nazca and the Mysteries of Peru, Random House 1987 ,page 135-6

[8] The Nazca Lines Revisited: Creation of a Full-Sized Duplicate, by Joe Nickell. THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, copyright ©1983, http://www.onagocag.com/nazca.html