| 1 October 2006
Priests may have designed Nazca lines, expert says
High priests at an ancient religious compound in southern Peru may have designed the mysterious Nazca lines, a set of huge geometric patterns, animal figures and long lines etched in the desert, the area's top archaeologist said. Researchers say the Cahua-chi compound, built in 400 BCE, is just across the Nazca Valley from the lines, one of Peru's most popular tourist attractions and a U.N. World Heritage site.
"It is logical to think that the Nazca people's religious beliefs originated in this ceremonial site and got expressed on the wide-open plain," Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici, who leads research at Cahuachi, said last week.
Geographical proximity is not the only evidence of links between the two ancient sites — the same religious icons appear at the lines and on ceramics and crafts excavated at the Cahuachi compound. "Felines and whales are found in all Nazcan art, and this is what we've found in the geoglyphs," Orefici said, referring to ground drawings surrounding the Nazca lines and the Cahuachi compound.
The Nazca lines, best viewed from the air, were made by clearing away surface shale or piling it up onto other stones. Among its most emblematic figures is a giant monkey with a spiral tail.
Sources: Reuters, Arizona Daily Star (24 September 2006)
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