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The Nazca Line Drawings, Geoglyphs, and Pictures

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On the desert plains of the Nazca Plateau in Southern Peru, the Nazca Culture drew huge line drawings or geoglyphs.

UNESCO has recognized the Nazca line drawings as a World Heritage site. Why?

As one of the most amazing feats found in the ancient world cultures, these drawings are not only huge but mysterious!

Why so incredible?

These line drawings or geoglyphs are so large that they can only be appreciated from an aircraft high above them.

So why did the Nazca People draw these fantastic pictures that they could not even see from the ground? And how did they get the pictures so exact?

Geometric and Human Figures

According to researchers, more than thirty Nazca line drawings (geoglyphs) have been found so far plains or "Pampas" of Nazca.

The predominant figures are of marine and land animals as well and numerous geometric shapes and some human figures.

The actual drawings are smaller in number than the geometric designs.

The many geometric designs consist of hundreds and hundreds of lines, triangles, and quadrangles that cover large tracts of land.


The Nazca Lines are known as geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) land are found in the dry southern part of Peru (see the related pages in the box the right for more information).

The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks or orcas, llamas, and lizards.

Among the larger geoglyphs are

  • a bird of about 300 meters (990 feet),
  • a lizard of 180 meters (595 feet),
  • a pelican of 135 meters (445 feet),
  • a condor of 135 meters (445 feet),
  • a monkey of 135 meters (445 feet) and
  • a spider of 42 meters (139 feet).

Just imagine: the large figures are the length of over 3 football fields in size!

On the other hand are the smaller line drawings such as a spiral that is only 3 meters (apx 10 feet) long.

Some of the more notable Nazca line drawings represented are:
    * The Frigate Bird

    * The Lizard: It measured 188 meters long. However, its hind legs were erased when the construction of the Pan-American highway divided the drawing in two.

    * The Monkey: One of the most well-known Nazca Line drawings, this monkey has only nine fingers and has a spiral-shaped tail.      

    * The Spider     

    * The Hummingbird: This is another one of the most well-known geoglyphs, most famous for its harmonious proportions.      

    * The Giant Bird or Condor: This figure shows a large snake-necked bird whose beak points to the rising sun.

Peru's flag     World Heritage Sites in Peru

* In 1995 UNESCO declared the Nazca lines a World Heritage Site. List and photos are courtesy of Wikipedia contributors.

* Huascaran National Park 

* Manu National Park 

* Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca (Nazca) and Pampas de Jumana 

* Rio Abiseo National Park 

* Sacred City of Caral-Supe

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