Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Upgrade to today
for only an extra Cxx.xx

You get:

plus This issue of xxxxxxxxxxx.
plus Instant access to the latest issue of 480+ of our top selling titles.
plus Unlimited access to 39000+ back issues
plus No contract or commitment. If you decide that PocketmagsPlus is not for you, you can cancel your monthly subscription online at any time. Auto-renews at £9.99 per month, unless cancelled.
Upgrade for 99p
Then just £9.99 / month. Cancel anytime.
Learn more
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
GB
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the United Kingdom version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Read anywhere Read anywhere
Ways to pay Pocketmags Payment Types
Trusted site
At Pocketmags you get
Secure Billing
Great Offers
Web & App Reader
Gifting Options
Loyalty Points
213 MIN READ TIME

The Nazca Geoglyphs

BY DARREN IAMMARINO

THE NAZCA GEOGLYPHS—POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE Nazca Lines—of southern Peru were first discovered in the 1920s and made public in the 1930s immediately became the subject of awe and controversy. The more speculative theories as to the origin and purpose of these enigmatic lines and biomorphic glyphs have ranged from ancient alien runways to some form of sacred geometry. This article will not deal with these fringe explanations as no scientist takes them seriously. Instead it: (1) critically examines the more recent and credible theories about the Nazca Geoglyphs, many of which revolve around the importance of water, and (2) proffers a novel argument about the purpose, function, and meaning of the biomorphic figures, as well as the more complex geometric shapes. The thesis is that the geoglyphs— specifically the figural geoglyphs on the San Jose Pampa—represent a permanent pictographic record of the creation myth(s) of the Nazca culture. Further, I propose that the figural geoglyphs were used in a religious and ritualistic fashion in at least two ways. First, they may have been used to re-enact key aspects of the creation myth for the purpose of restoring order to society through the production of rain or predictable floods. Second, the labyrinthine nature of the geoglyphs may have been used to induce trance states and allow access to the powers of various deities or important deceased ancestors. Reconstructing this creation myth I will attempt to bring back to life for the first time in nearly two thousand years an ancient Peruvian origin story.

I. Previous Scholarship

The history of Nazca scholarship is plagued by the same issues that obscure most academically informed fieldwork—a lack of interdisciplinary knowledge and interdepartmental communication. As scholars we can know only so much and often we are told to know more and more about less and less to the point that we know nearly everything about nearly nothing. An engineer might focus on how an ancient site was constructed, while an astronomer will, not surprisingly, believe an ancient site is astronomically aligned, but without the insights of a cultural anthropologist, both the engineer and the astronomer may project Western biases and miss the holistic picture. This is precisely what happened with the Nazca Lines.

Read the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptic
Purchase options below
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Digital Issue 21.4
 
£4.49
This issue and other back issues are not included in a new Skeptic subscription. Subscriptions include the latest regular issue and new issues released during your subscription.
Annual Digital Subscription SPECIAL OFFER: Was £12.99 Now £9.99 billed annually
Save
44%
£9.99
PRINT SUBSCRIPTION? Available at magazine.co.uk, the best magazine subscription offers online.
 

This article is from...


View Issues
Skeptic
21.4
VIEW IN STORE

Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) educational organization
COLUMNS
Anti-Aging Claims: The Fountain of Youth Is Still Only a Legend
Can Working Memory Be Trained to Work Better?
Michelle E. Ainsworth holds an MA in history. She enjoys
SPECIAL SECTION CLASSIC SKEPTICISM
Why the Myth Endures
TO SOMEONE WITH BIOLOGICAL TRAINING, ONE OF THE MOST irritating
Sightings of Mysterious Clowns Rattle Nerves in South Carolina
ARTICLES
LAST JUNE, THE LONG AWAITED SEQUEL INDEPENDENCE Day: Resurgence opened
Is “Spirituality” so Broadly Defined that Testing for It Is Meaningless?
THE NOTION THAT WE’RE ALL JUST COMPUTER simulations living in
The Cancer-care Industry’s Marketing Is Among the Most Deceptive on the Consumer Landscape
One of the Most Fundamental Sources of Error in Human Judgment
Thinking Critically about Public Discourse
REVIEWS
A review of three books about the Salem Witch Trials
A Review of The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Taunton
JUNIOR SKEPTIC
Welcome back to the curious tale of mammoths and mastodons!
We ended Part One with a wonderful scene from 200
With new fossil discoveries and Cuvier’s research, it was becoming
Rembrandt Peale was mistaken about his carnivorous mastodon with the
At the same time that new fossil discoveries were revealing
The first few decades of the 1800s brought a wealth
It’s a lot of trouble to make money selling tickets
People who read newspapers during the 1800s found tall tales
We’ve come a long way since the days when mammoth