As a plane soars over the high desert of southern Peru, the dull pale sameness of the rocks and sand organize and change form. Distinct white lines gradually evolve from tan and rust-red. Strips of white crisscross a desert so dry that it rains less than an inch every year. The landscape changes as lines take shape to form simple geometric designs: trapezoids, straight lines, rectangles, triangles, and swirls. Some of the swirls and zigzags start to form more distinct shapes: a hummingbird, a spider, a monkey.

These are the renowned Nasca lines—subject of mystery for over 80 years. How were they formed? What purpose could they have served? Were aliens involved?

The lines are found in a region of Peru just over 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the modern town of Nasca. In total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building).

Nazca Lines are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs in the world. Etched in the surface of the desert pampa sand about 300 hundred figures made of straight lines, geometric shapes and pictures of animals and birds - and their patterns are only clearly visible from the air. 

Ranging from geometric patterns to “drawings” of different animals and stylized human-like forms. The ancient lines can only be truly taken in, their forms discerned, from high in the air, leaving generations mystified as to how these precise works could’ve been completed long before the documented invention of human flight. Are the lines signs left by an alien race? Landing strips for UFOs? Relics of a ancient people far more advanced—capable of human flight—then previously imagined?

Etched, as if by giants, onto the arid moonscape of Peru’s southern desert lies one of man’s greatest mysteries; the Nasca Lines. More than 15,000 geometric and animal-like patterns have been discovered criss-crossing the pampas like a vast puzzle. Who built them and what was their purpose? Ancient racetracks, landing strips for aliens, or perhaps a giant astronomical calendar? And are the Lines connected to the gruesome discovery of large cache’s of severed human heads. Now, after decades of misunderstanding, modern archaeology may finally have the answer.

Excavations in the surrounding mountains are uncovering extraordinary clues about the people who made them and why. A long since vanished people, called the Nasca, flourished here between 200BC and 700AD. But the harsh environment led them to extreme measures in order to survive.

Archaeologist Christina Conlee recently made an extraordinary find: the skeleton of a young male, ceremonially buried but showing gruesome evidence of decapitation. In place of the missing human head, a ceramic “head jar” decorated with a striking image of a decapitated head with a tree sprouting from its skull.

Conlee wonders who this person was? Why was he beheaded and yet buried with honor. Was he a captive taken in battle, or could he have been a willing sacrifice? And did his decapitation have anything to do with the lines? The discovery of large caches of human heads adds grisly weight to Conlee’s theories and helps unravel on of man’s great mysteries.

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