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Nazca & Around

‘Nazca Lines’ refers to the ancient geometric lines that crisscross the Nazca desert and the enigmatic animal geoglyphs that accompany them. Like all great unexplained mysteries, these great etchings on the pampa, thought to have been made by a pre-Inca civilization between AD 450 and 600, attract a variable fan base of archaeologists, scientists, history buffs, New Age mystics, curious tourists, and pilgrims on their way to (or back from) Machu Picchu.

Questions still hang over how they were made and by whom, and the answers are often as much wild speculation as pure science (aliens? prehistoric balloonists?). Documented for the first time by North American scientist Paul Kosok in 1939 and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1994, the lines today are the south coast’s biggest tourist attraction, meaning the small desert town of Nazca can be a bit of a circus.

Greenpeace Did What to the Nazca Lines?

The earth does deserve a voice, but for many Peruvians, and world citizens, the Greenpeace action on December 8, 2014 that placed a message – 'Time For Change! The Future is Renewable. Greenpeace' – in large yellow letters next to the iconic hummingbird biomorphic geoglyph in the Nazca Lines was an act of vandalism, causing significant damage to a World Heritage Site.

Because of the delicate nature of these mysterious formations that date back 1500 years, nobody is permitted to walk on the Nazca Lines complex (these rules apply to backpackers and presidents). Only using special weight-dispersing padded shoes do archaeologists enter the site.

And while Greenpeace points out that activists did not walk on the geoglyph itself, they did overturn rocks and drone flights revealed disrupted areas where the protesters (or vandals depending on how you look at it) entered the site.

After the action, which was designed to call the attention of world leaders attending a UN Climate Summit in Lima, Greenpeace issued apologies, and several of the 12 people taking part were formally charged by Peruvian authorities, with the Austrian archaeologist that lead the stunt going on to receive a large fine and suspended prison sentence.

International outrage swirled around the incident and the Peruvian government vowed to restore the site. However the fragile nature of the lines was again brought to the fore in 2018 when a large truck drove across some of the lines leaving deep tyre marks in the soil that cut across three of the lines. The driver was eventually acquitted after claiming he had been forced off the road due to mechanical problems and didn't realize he was crossing the lines.

After the latest incident the government once again vowed to increase security at the site but whether this will lead to change on the ground remains to be seen.

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