The term “Nazca Lines” refer to a series of images created in the desert of Peru about 2,000 years ago. These images,many depicting geometric shapes, are extremely large with some covering several kilometers. Although researchers know how the Nazca Lines were created--the top layer of dark rocks were removed from the desert floor, exposing the lighter soil underneath--they remain uncertain why they were created. Several theories have been suggested to account for the presence of these lines.
One theory is that the Nazca Lines were used as an astronomical calendar for tracking events such as the winter solstice (the day with shortest number of daylight hours) that were important to agricultural peoples. This theory was supported by the discovery of an astronomical link between some of the images and various planets and stars. It was pointed out, for example, that on the day of the winter solstice, the Sun sets almost directly over a single long line drawn in the desert.
Another theory is that the Nazca images were created as a monument alart form expressing the Nazca people’s cultural and social importance in the region. Many ancient peoples built large monuments and artworks to demonstrate their power and celebrate their achievements. The Egyptians built massive pyramids, for example, and Easter Islanders curved massive human heads out of stone. It seems reasonable, therefore, to think that the Nazca images were built for similar reasons--to impress others.
A third theory focuses on the fact that there is evidence that people traveled by foot along the line. This has led to the speculation that the Nazca Lines represented sites of footraces in which individuals or groups of individuals competed for athletic victory. In this view, the Nazca images are ancient racetracks.