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Aztec, Inca & Maya

Nazca

Access hole to an underground aqueductAccess hole to an underground aqueductThe Nazca people lived on the edge of the desert in southern Peru. Their culture thrived between around 200 BC and 750 AD. They are known to have traded with the Moche people farther north. They were expert craftworkers and produced beautiful pottery and textiles. They also constructed a system of underground aqueducts, called puquios, to bring fresh water from the mountains to their farmland and settlements. The Nazca are, however, best known for the amazing lines and shapes they carved in the desert.

Pyramid moundPyramid mound
The Nazca monkey carved in the Peruvian desertThe Nazca monkey carved in the Peruvian desert

Nazca lines

The Nazca people carved hundreds of lines in the desert’s sandy surface, and a series of strange pictures, including images of birds, monkeys and spiders. They can be seen properly only from the air. Why the Nazca people made these lines and pictures—long before planes were invented—remains a mystery. No one knows what the Nazca pictures mean, but they may have played a part in a religious ritual.

A giant spider and several lines and shapesA giant spider and several lines and shapes

Figurine carved from sperm whale toothFigurine carved from sperm whale tooth

The fall of the Nazca

Some people believe that the makers of the lines and drawings discovered in the Nazca region—properly visible only from the air—were aliens from outer space.

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