TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2007. NAZCA, PERU. Peru's second great archeological sight after Machu Picchu are the Nazca Lines--drawings of animals and other figures in the desert that can be see from the air. The drawings occupy an area of 500 square kilometers. There are some 800 lines, 300 figures, and 70 animals and plants. Some of the more unique figures are the 90 meter monkey, the 14 meter ¨astronaut, and the 50 meter hummingbird.
The lines were discovered by a pilot, Paul Kosoh, in 1920. Maria Reiche, one of the early scientists to study the Nazca lines, theorizes the lines were made by Paracas and Nazca cultures between 900 BC and 600 AD. The lines were created by removing sun darkened stones to expose the lighter stones below. As to the reason and function of the lines, there are many theories--from signals to extraterrestrial life to astronomical formations to maps of space--take your pick.
The lines can be seen from above by small airplane ($40 for 30 minute flight). Flights are usually in the morning for the best light and viewing.