The Watch

Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca

Nasca, Ica Region, Peru
Did You Know?
In the arid coastal plain south of Lima, Peru, figures etched in the earth thousands of years ago, and visible only from high above, capture the curiosity of the world.
A Closer Look

Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca

In the arid coastal plain south of Lima, Peru, figures etched in the earth thousands of years ago, and visible only from high above, capture the curiosity of the world. The geoglyphs of Nasca and the pampas of Jumana, known informally as the Nasca Lines, date from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. Covering an area of more than 450 square kilometers along low foothills and desert, these pre-Columbian archaeological wonders were created by the removal of the dark sand and iron oxide-coated gravel surface to reveal the pale ground underneath. The vast figural representations—including creatures, plants, and geometric designs—are attributed to three distinct phases of development that correspond to the Chavín, Paracas, and Nasca cultures of the region. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, the lines and geoglyphs of Nasca have since become an important tourist destination in Peru. Conservation challenges, including tourism management and the potential for flooding from El Niño, have necessitated the development of a master plan to ensure long-term preservation and stewardship. Implementation of the plan, through institutional collaboration and community engagement, will be a next critical step to ensure that these enigmas of the past continue to fascinate generations to come.

Since the Watch

In December 2014, Greenpeace activists laid out a message near the figure of the hummingbird, one of Nasca’s most recognizable figures, spurring controversy. The country’s Ministry of Culture has charged Greenpeace for damages to the site. January 2015

Watch Day 2012

Nasca and Palpa celebrated Watch Day with traditional dance performances, drawing contests, photo exhibits, and public conferences. Schoolchildren from each town participated in the drawing contest, interpreting the majestic landscape of the lines and geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa.

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