The man of this civilization of ours takes for granted that he can know, using his own reason, the explanation for some phenomena, discoveries or events that concern the past.
Often, on the other hand, we struggle with ignorance and the impossibility of discovering the truth… we catalogue this limit under the label of mystery and ensure the most exciting of adventures: imagining a theory, dilating our minds on possible hypotheses.
We offer you the opportunity.
We will talk about a controversy arising from a discovery made in the Nazca desert, a dry plateau near the city of the same name in southern Peru.
Indians and Nazca lines
This region was the land of the Nazca Indians, whose culture was absorbed by the Inca empire in the 15th century to be completely wiped out by the Spanish conquerors.
The only witness of the past are the ruins of a temple containing six pyramids, located on the Nazca river.
In 1926 Julio Tello, a pioneer of Peruvian archaeology, came to those places on a research expedition to discover a disconcerting undertaking carried out by that ancient people.
Everything happened when two scientists of the expedition, the Peruvian Meyia Xesspe and the American Alfred Kroeber climbed a hill and from that observation point they noticed, in the afternoon light, long lines barely perceptible, which crossed the desert and which were not visible from the plain.
Deepening their research they discovered that the lines had been drawn by removing stones from the surface of the ground, leaving the pale yellow gravel underneath exposed; in that desert, since it never rained, the lines could have remained almost forever (according to some scientists they date back to about 1500 years ago).
Once exposed to light, the lines slowly darkened until they took on the reddish-brown colour of the desert.
This explained why the lines were only visible from above.
The theory that the Nazca lines were ancient roads was rejected when crossing the desert in the late 1920s and later in the 1930s, a plane discovered a vast mosaic of complex signs.
From the plane were visible huge rectangles, lines, geometric figures and drawings of animals such as a monkey, a spider, a hummingbird, a whale, and then drawings of flowers, hands, spirals, all ranging in size from a few meters to about 200 meters.
Even when their path extended for kilometres and kilometres it always followed a straight line, with deviations of a few metres at most, no matter how hilly or uneven the terrain.
Why did the Nazca Indians mark the desert in this way?
An artistic motivation is excluded, since as far as we know they could not see from above.
This work, ingenious in itself, was not impossible to carry out by primitive means, but the manual work of the Indians would have been enough to remove the stones from the drawn furrow.
Linear perfection was achievable with a very simple method: some poles planted equidistant connected by ropes would have simulated the route.
What amazed the scholars was therefore not the technique used, but the purpose of the work.
The Chinese wall, a mammoth work, made sense: to protect an empire… but what was the purpose of these enormous images, which could only be read from above?
Theories of Nazca Lines
Obviously, many scholars and archaeologists came up with new theories on the subject.
In 1941, the American archaeologist Paul Kosok drew a map of Nazca’s lines and drawings and concluded his research by saying that they were used for astronomical observations.
This theory was endorsed by a German mathematician, Marie Reiche, who explained how animals and geometric figures pointed, in her opinion, at the major stars represented constellations of a huge calendar, used by the Nazca to calculate time.
The scholar was able to find many possible alignments of the signs in the direction of the major stars or the sun, but she had no further evidence to confirm her theory.
It was only in 1968 that an astronomer from the Washington astrophysical observatory, Gerald Hawkins, discovered alignments similar to Stonehenge, the famous prehistoric megalithic monument north of Salisbury in England.
By entering the data collected in the Nazca Desert into a computer he searched for possible alignments to the sun or important stars over the last 7000 years.
Some results were really interesting, the most significant being the alignment of a figure called the Great Rectangle with the Pleiades in the year 610.
This date coincides with the carbon-14 dating of a wooden pole found on the site. Unfortunately, the alignments demonstrated by computer were numerically part of a random case study.
Tony Morrison’s theory
Another theory, equally reliable, was proposed not by a scholar but by a film producer.
In 1977, Tony Morrison, having learned about the work undertaken by Marie Reiche and Gerald Hawkinh, fascinated by the enigma of the Nazca tracks, decided to solve it by studying in depth the Nazca customs and religion.
He resumed the hypothesis, suggested by the scholar Hejìa Xesspe (discoverer of the lines) who considered them to be “ceques”, that is, paths traced for religious purposes.
Morrison found in a Spanish chronicle dating back to 1653 an interesting clue to his thesis: it referred to the fact that in the Inca capital of Cuzco the Indians had built sanctuaries along lines radiating from the temple of the sun.
In the Nazca desert the lines joined together piles of stone that could be the remains of sanctuaries, these two data could match, but it was necessary to confirm this further thesis.
The paths of Cuzco did not lead to any certain evidence, the remaining traces were irrelevant.
It was only in Bolivia in 1977, in the region of the Aymarà tribe that the producer Morrison found a perfect set of lines with the same precision as the Nazca lines.
These lines also joined several sacellums (small constructions for sacred functions) built in stone.
In turn the lines that joined the sacellums converged towards a church.
It seems that the Aymaràs stopped devoutly at the small buildings dedicated to the local spirits or gods, offering sacrifices and coca leaves, then they headed towards the church without ever crossing the paths given; this to avoid falling into the realm of evil spirits.
The belief that a sacellum built very high up was inhabited by more powerful spirits explains why many tracks are located on the top of the hills as in the case of the Nazca lines.
This, however, is a partial answer to the mystery of the Nazca lines; it certainly gives a sense to their (religious) use but does not justify the need to create forms visible only from above.
The ufological hypothesis
What if we accept the hypothesis proposed by the ufologists according to which the tracks were “dedicated” to our brothers of the cosmos in order to quickly identify landing fields?
The most ancient civilizations have in common, despite the considerable geographical distances, the cult of Gods coming from the sky: pyramids directed according to criteria similar to the Nazca tracks and often astronomical knowledge unthinkable for the means at their disposal.
Too bad that the most interesting hypotheses remain only hypotheses.
The peoples who could have told the truth about it are now extinct.
We like to think, not without a shudder of fear for what is unknown, that someone up there, by depositing it with those answers that we are so eagerly searching for, carefully observe the swarming of life on our planet.