The Nasca Lines are one of the greatest enigmas that the ancient world has left for humanity, just like Stonehenge, the Giants of Pascua Island, the Great Sphinx, Machupicchu and similar wonders of the world. Since their discovery the enigma surrounding them has always powerfully attracted the attention of archaeologists, mathematicians, astronomers, UFO seekers and the curious general public. Who covered kilometers of desert with straight lines, gigantic trapezoids and--what is more amazing--dozens of sophisticated figures that can only be seen from the air? And why did they do so? These and other questions have promoted fantastic and audacious theories.
Scientists, who have the highest authority on this subject, think very carefully and with certain skepticism; they as archaeologists think that it is not yet possible to answer such questions. We understand this way of thinking because there is very limited data to make any conclusions. The Nasca Lines enigma is enticing, but sometimes it seems better to leave such things without answers rather than to offer theories without sure evidence. Unless the epistemology of the future allows us to obtain new, surer proofs the important Nasca enigma will remain deeply considered by very few scientists, since most of them prefer to walk by securer routes rather than risk falling on dangerous ground.
If we had followed this way of thinking, the present book would never have seen the light. It’s easy to surrender without a fight, but it doesn’t deserve our admiration. A great enigma is a challenge for any cultivated mind…so…we are going to decode it, or at least let’s make a perhaps foolhardy attempt!
Although there are many different published theories about this astonishing monument, probably the most famous is the one we owe to Dr. Maria Reiche, in whose memory we dedicate the present book. Her interpretation links the Nasca Lines with astronomical observations and the figures with the constellations. This conclusion undoubtedly is explained by the doctor’s professional training, which was in mathematics. Her theories are arguable, but without her work the Nasca Lines and the geoglyphs would not have survived until today. It is also true that she knew the field more than anyone, because for many years it was her home and studio.
Today the most popular version belongs to Johan Reinhard. His theory has an entirely different basis than Maria Reiche’s, being an anthropological point of view. According to him, the lines point to the Sacred Mountains, which are ‘suppliers of water’ and that in accordance with this fact, the entire pampas with its geoglyphs would have been a great site for fertility ceremonies.
There are also a series of different hypotheses, which present us with more less elaborated theories, but from our point of view all of them have the same fault, that they are radical. An author proposes an idea and sets it up against another, canceling out the possibility of a ‘multiple interpretation.’ Is it not possible that some lines could point to the stars and others to the mountains? And at the same time a constellation could be a divinity?
The present book offers a spectrum of ideas and interpretations on the Nasca Lines as a general monument and its particular parts; some of them are ours and others are based on previous studies. We are offering you the job my dear reader to keep and reject what you like. The structure of the book allows you to combine them as you will. Early in the book some theories might appear incompatible with others; however as you read on you will see that the different theories become complementary, and they are all an important part of the topic.
The present study is based around four subjects, the first being about the myths, rites and cultural heroes in Nasca. We are lead to the Moche culture on the Northern Peruvian coast. These two cultures shared the same ecological conditions, similar patterns in economy, and probably deep similarities in their mythology and cosmic vision. The mythical scenes on Moche pottery give us abundant material to find analogies with the iconography of the Nasca geoglyphs.
The second part takes us roughly a thousand years later, to the Incas. This is the earliest age for which we have written texts of myths and legends from the Spaniards chronicles. Although the stretch of time between the Nascas and the Incas looks huge, other written evidence of the way of life in the Andean world is not available. We can discover what might be called ‘inherited knowledge’ as the Incas summarized knowledge of previous cultures; however, after the discovery of the "Lord of Wari" made in Espiritu Pampa, Vilcabamaba (one of the Cusco provinces) we are sure that the Nasca knowledge came to the Incas through Wari.
The third part approaches the modern anthropological point of view that present-day Peruvian society is almost nothing like that of their ancestors, but in some cases the isolated Andean communities give us astonishing analogies, and for them the expression ‘here time has stopped ’ is true. This part of the book is based around a central concept: the notion of fertility, which in the inhospitable land of Nasca should be of vital importance.
In the second part of the book the astronomical interpretations are placed together. They complement the first half of the book, as the astronomy in the ancient societies did not exist as a free or independent science; it rather was a part of their mythic cosmos vision. The study of the movement of stars was necessary for the creation of an astronomical calendar, which was used as an indicator of the agrarian cycle, so the stars were in strict relation to the earth’s life cycle and the astronomy was tied to the fertility concept.
The last part introduces us to the enigmatic figure of the shaman, the wise man, magician, and doctor of ancient cultures. The Nasca Lines were most likely his idea and thus his creation and he was the guardian of their secrets. Here we inquire into the shaman’s most powerful instrument, the hallucinogenic plants and their possible role in the geoglyphs creation. At this juncture I must publicly thank Dr. Carl Sagan who helped me to find resemblances between the magic world of the shaman and the quantum theory discoveries such as the ‘Uncertainty Principle’ or ‘Parallel Universes’. Dr. Sagan’s work also helped provide a new explanation for the UFO phenomenon, which some theorists nowadays have linked very closely with Nasca.
I honestly confess that in many cases I’ve let my imagination lead me more than the facts (basically because the absence of the latter). Let’s not forget that imagination is the best weapon when we invade unknown territory. Remember! Einstein left us with the challenge: “Imagination is more than knowledge,” even though the latter is indispensable for scientific rigor. On this last point, the need for scientific rigor making this book worthy of the title DECODED is expressed in the chapter “Observatory - Laboratory”, where we uncover the function of the recently discovered geoglyph which we call "The Diamond." It was used as the pantograph for giving the large scale and exact orientation of the figures, which would serve not only as scientific proof of this theory, but also help us to hypothesize the instrument used in the construction of the classical Nasca geoglyphs.
…SO…TO ARMS, MY DEAR READER! A great battle awaits us…