Peru’s Ancient Nazca Lines Scarred by “Unfamiliar” Driver

Global Engagements Fellowship

One of “archaeology’s greatest enigmas” rests about 250 miles south of Lima, Peru. Between 500 BC and 500 AD, a series of geometric lines were carved into the region’s red top soil, exposing the white soil beneath.  Among the hundreds of lines, some reach lengths of 1,200ft long. Incredibly, they connect to form hundreds of individual geoglyphs, ranging from geometric shapes to animal designs.

Lima’s semi-arid climate has served to preserve these intricate lines for thousands of years, making it an official World Heritage site as of 1994 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The immense geoglyphs can be viewed in their entirety only through aerial photography or partially from surrounding foothills. Archaeologists and other scholars have yet to determine a purpose for the lines, but most interpret them to likely be of religious significance. Despite their unknown origins or purpose, the ancient Nazca Lines are a significant part of Peru’s culture. Boundaries are implemented to protect the lines from human civilization.

However, recently, the lines suffered damage resulting in “deep scars” at the fault of an unaware truck driver. In an attempt to avoid paying a toll, the driver ignored various warning signs, entered the zone, and plowed through an area of about 100 feet by 330 feet of ancient history. The driver, 40 years old, claimed the cultural damage was not purposeful, rather he was “unfamiliar with the area” he was entering. Currently, there is no evidence to indict the driver for malicious intent.


“Scars” left behind from driver’s rig (Peruvian Ministry of Culture)


This is not the first case of harm’s way finding the ancient Nazca Lines. In 2014, Austrian Greenpeace activist Wolfgang Sadik organized a demonstration on the lines to bring attention to climate change, causing irreparable damage. Following these incidents, Peru’s government plans to increase protection surrounding the borders and patrol the vast area with drone and other technology.


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