May 07, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

Rock Lines in Peru Were GPS for Ancient Fairgoers

Peru is famous for its Nazca Lines – the hundreds of geoglyphs in the shapes of geometric forms, animals and humans found in the Nazca Desert and believed to have been created by the Nazca culture beginning around 300 AD. Recently, new lines were discovered that are older than the Nazca Lines and may have directed ancient Peruvians to fairs.

Nazca dog 570x490
Image of dog in Nazca Lines

According to Charles Stanish, the director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the newly discovered lines were made by the Paracas, a Peruvian culture dating back to 800 BCE. Working in the Chinca Valley 125 miles south of Lima, Stanish and his team found straight rock lines, circles, rectangles and a point where lines converged in a circle of rays. They also found mounds and some lines that outlined pyramid structures.

Reporting his findings in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Standish speculates that the lines were tied to ancient festivals held in the area because it was unsuitable for farming. Some of the lines line up with the position of the sun during the June (winter) solstice and may have marked the festival times, while others run parallel to roads still used today and may have led people to the fairs, with the mounds and pyramids possibly acting as forms of ancient road signs.

The new lines date to around 300 B.C., predating the oldest Nazca Lines by 300 years. Standish points out that what makes these geoglyphs interesting is that they appear to have served more than one function.

The lines are effectively a social technology. They're using it for certain purposes. Some people have said the lines point out sacred mountains. Sure, why not? The lines [might] point out sacred pyramids. Why not? The lines could [also] be used to point out processions.

Whatever their purpose, Standish is right about this:

Native Americans in this part of the world were extremely ingenious.


paracas geoglyphs lined with sunset on winter solstice 570x378
Paracas geoglyphs lined with sunset on winter solstice.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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