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.
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.