Monday, April 4, 2011
A zoo in the desert
Ahh!! Sorry for being so behind. The past week was CRAZY-GO-NUTS so I wasn't sure when I was going to get to this...but today, Stormzilla has kept me inside (traffic lights are out, fields and streets on campus are flooded) so here we are. I've been holding this fun little artistic marvel in my back pocket for a special occasion, might as well be now. :) So I give you...
The Nazca Lines - Peru
First, a quick vocab lesson:
1. Geoglyph - A drawing or design made in the ground.
Example: The Nazca lines are the most famous geoglyphs in the world.
2. Negative Geoglyph - A drawing in the ground created by REMOVING earth (vs. adding earth to make a design, like an Indiana mound...A "positive" geoglyph)
Example: The Nazca lines are a negative geoglyph.
3. Patina - A tarnish or sheen found typically on the surface of bronze and other metals due to time and wear.
Example: The Nazca lines make a negative geoglyph because patinated rocks/stones/earth were removed to expose unpatinated ground.
The Nazca lines are found in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. Scholars believe that the lines belong to the long-since dissolved Nazca race (200 BC to 650 AD), who possibly created these giant symbols between 400 and 650 AD (CE). This particular desert, also known as the Pampa Colorada (Red Plain), is 15 miles wide and 37 miles long and a part of a much larger desert running 1,400 miles and parallel to the Pacific Ocean.
The designs were created by moving patinated reddish stones back to reveal the white earth beneath them. Hummingbirds, monkeys, lizards, human figures, spiders, sharks, and llamas are all images depicted in these lines, as well as more general geometric shapes. They have been preserved for all of these years due to the dry, stable, relatively windless nature of the desert. The largest figures are over 660 ft (200 metres) across.
What are they and why are they here? Those have been the biggest, most puzzling questions for just about everybody. What we do know is that to create these lines, it would have taken a community effort and it would have taken that community hundreds of years. Given by the fact that they were worked on for hundreds of years, we know the Nazca were likely permanent residents of the area...not nomads and not likely hunter/gatherers either, but agrarians.
But as for the function of the lines, suggestions include:
- Suggest the flow of water
- Symbols of fertility
- Astrological calendars
- Giant irrigation plans
- Maps of the constellations
- Tribute to Nazca gods
- Courses for foot races
Oh yeah. And that it's an ancient airfield for extraterrestrials.