Maria Reiche Nazca Lines Theory

Maria Reiche Nazca Lines Theory



In the year 1939 an American professor of history, Dr. Paul Kosok, of Long Island University, came to Nazca, his specialty was ancient irrigation systems, which he had studied in the north of Peru that year. Interested in investigating the newly discovered area, that some had speculated were ancient irrigation canals, Kosok ventured to the Nazca Pampa. Upon close examination he concluded that the ground surface was much too superficial to have carried water, but during his research something else soon became apparent, the first Nazca “figures” including a bird, were revealed.

Kosak went on to locate an area where straight lines created a star-like array, then quite by accident something more dazzling was revealed, the first solstice alignment which he photographed by chance on the 21st of June, the winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere.

As his tenure in Peru had expired and unable to follow up on the discovery, he asked a young research assistant, Maria Reiche, who’d, been living in Peru for eight years at the time, to continue the research. This she agreed to do. ”


In 1946 Maria Reiche would discover many more solstice markers and begin her life’s work, mapping the celestial matrix of the Nazca Pampa. Four decades later she was asked what events in her life had prepared her for this lifelong passion, and she replied, “It was a kind of destiny. When I first came to Peru by sea the ship went passing through the center of four consecutive rainbows, four arcs, one inside the other. It was a marvelous spectacle! It must have been some kind of prediction or something. Imagine a boat, a boat driving through the open sea, passing through arching rainbows that touched the waves”.


Everything had prepared me for this life. The isolation into which I found myself, my parents putting me aside after my brother was born, my shortsightedness not being detected, all made me an introvert. It made me aloof because I was never the popular type. Now the tourists have made me popular. I was never popular! I sometimes wanted to be, but I could never be. What compelled me on this quest was my curiosity. I wanted to know!”

Maria Reiche Nazca Theory
in her own words . . .

I began my research in 1940, but then the war came and Peru joined the allies. We Germans were not allowed to leave Lima. In ’46 I could see that the solstice lines existed in different places especially from centers, of which almost every one of them has one, or two, solstice lines. There are also solstice triangles! In general, one can say that not only straight lines, but also the edges of triangles and quadrangles, have specific directions which are repeated everywhere. More than sun directions there are moon directions, which is in agreement with the knowledge that the moon was observed before the sun.

For instance, the big quadrangle beside the figure of the spider is a moon direction and the other one beside the figure of the Heron with the winding neck, is one side in the single direction and the other side in the solstice direction! Such a quadrangle could have served to predict eclipses, which were a powerful means of subjecting the people. Even Columbus used an eclipse to frighten the people as he knew the correct time to do so.

During this work of measuring lines I saw that there were many figures.
I could recognize them because I had seen one! Others couldn’t.

That is why the Pan American highway cut the figure of the lizard in half. Before the highways construction in 1938 people drove randomly over the lines and figures without seeing anything! From the air the figures were not visible either due to the nature of the soil at the time. You see the figures are of a whitish color on a brown surface, this brown surface is a thin covering of dark stone about 10 cm, which suffers the process of oxidation giving the entire region its particular brownish effect. Underneath the soil is still whitish, not brown, comprised of a mixture of rock that had been split into small fragments due to extreme temperatures, and clay, which ultimately was blown away by strong winds coming down from the Andes. The huge basin was filled with this mixture creating this flat surface we call the Pampa. This is why we only have these small pebbles on the surface.

There are extremely strong winds here, even sandstorms, but the sand never deposits over the drawings. On the contrary, the wind has a cleansing effect taking away all the loose material. This way the drawings were preserved for thousands of years. It is also one of the driest places on earth, drier then the Sahara. It rains only half an hour every two years! Now all this has changed due to air pollution. Huge masses of dust and sand blow in from a large iron mine southwest of Nasca and fill the entire region with contamination, this produces precipitation, not enough for agriculture, but enough to endanger the figures.

The figures, the drawings, are very superficial furrows never more then 30 cm in depth, and very shallow. For this reason the wind has obscured them by filling them with small dark pebbles from the surrounding surface like grain, making them difficult to detect from the air. To make them more accessible for viewing I cleaned them with a broom, one broom after another throughout the years. I went through so many brooms rumors circulated that I might be a witch!


I presented the Peruvian Air force with charts of the figures of the Pampa, and this began a wonderful cooperation between us resulting in many photographic flights.

The number of drawings on the Pampa is immense. There are thousands of straight lines, hundreds of triangles and quadrangles, and dozens of figures. All this spread over 50 kilometers from north to south, and 5 to 7 kilometers from the foot of the Andes toward the sea. The biggest concentration of drawings is always found at the edges of the different plains where the descent to the valleys begin because this is the nearest place to where the people who made the drawings lived though they never lived among the drawings, nor buried their dead there.

On the other hand there are some very isolated drawings in the midst of the desert. Others are on high mountain tops or behind mountain ridges where the people who drew them had to travel for hours to get there. This is very strange and inexplicable. Something else that is difficult to explain is why they wanted to draw on such different scales.

There are figures only 4 meters long and others with a length of 200 to 300 meters. The same applies to geometric surfaces. There are some that are only a few meters long; the longest quadrangle further north has a length of 1,600 meters. The sizes come in several categories. The next category begins with a line that is 800 meters long. That’s the length of the lines next to the spider and heron. There is another one half that size, a little over 400 meters. It is the quadrangle next to the lizard.

It’s evident that not only directions of the geometric drawings may be of importance, but also their dimensions. The length of the straight lines also varies. I know two that are 9 kilometers in length and absolutely straight. This fact of straightness may be explained by the extraordinary eyesight of the ancient people of Peru. There are only two places in the world where we have this kind of telescopic eyesight, where people can see small things at immense distances, the one is in Mongolia in the Gobi Desert, and the other is here among these people.

I presented one of these people to an Oculist (Ophthalmologist) to see if drawing might harm his eyes. The Oculist was stunned because the letter chart was not small enough to test the limit of his extraordinary vision, which was equal in both eyes. He called him hypometric. This boy can also draw very tiny images to a fraction of accuracy. I believe this explains many things about the Nazca drawings.


The longest straight lines are those that connect one center with another, there are others that don’t lead anywhere but go back and forth several times. Sometimes there are two forms of them – zigzag lines and oscillating lines, by which I mean those that have individual pieces going back and forth almost parallel. These forms also appear in different sizes from a few meters in length. The two longest ones – one zigzag and the other oscillating, have individual pieces of about 1 km in length. The width also varies. In the small figures of 4 meters in length, the width is of 5 and 10 meters. Recently a snake-like figure was discovered from the air with a width of 40 1/2 meters, from the ground you cannot detect this figure if you don’t know exactly where it is, but from the air it’s immense!

The people who made the Nazca drawings lived in different valleys over a period of 3,000 years or more and left as a testament to their existence millions of layers in which are found fine gold and silver work, excellent pottery, and the finest cloth in the world. We do not know when they made the drawings. The immense quantity of drawings, each executed with utmost precision, must have taken at least half a generation to make. A Carbon 14 test made on a stick found at the end of a quadrangle in a heap of stones gives the year 550 AD, but I am sure that they are much older then that! We know that the drawing activity extended through the time of the Inca because there are several drawings which are typical to the Inca style, sometimes drawn over older smaller figures, which are still visible underneath. This way, the drawing activity very well could have been extended over 2,000 years or more.

The geometric drawings are directed toward horizon points marking the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies and most likely served to mark the sowing and harvest time, and the distribution of food during the dry period of the year. The figures indicated the division of the year by way of constellations, with respect to their positions at night. The most important epoch of the year was, until now, December. This was the month the rivers would fill to the brim with muddy water that brought life to the fields. Now this has all stopped. There is an eternal drought here due to the contamination of air quality preventing the clouds from reaching the high mountains to fill the rivers.

Years ago one could see the people making furrows in the fields to prepare for the arrival of the water. In ancient times they knew when to begin this labor which was similar to the Ancient Egyptian custom when they prepared the land for the flooding of the Nile after observing the appearance of the big dog Sirius. Here the Big Dipper (a.k.a. Big Bear) announces the water. This constellation is only visible between December and March and is seen here upside down with the handle curved upward. It’s possible that the Dipper was represented by one of the large drawings – the monkey. The handle of the Dipper would be the arms of the Monkey. Above it there is a small constellation called the Hunting Gloves, which would be the head. You see one leg, and at the top left a huge constellation, Orion, corresponds to the tail. An interesting fact is that the long arrow-like triangle and several straight lines point to the rising and setting of the largest star in the Dipper in the year 900 AD.


The contour line of the monkey continues as a zigzag shape considered the symbol for water by North American Indians. The Egyptians too considered the zigzag water. Here they call it “fineo mio,” mio, being the word for river. The appearance of the Dipper, the Monkey, and the River was the origin of water worship. The divinity that had to be appealed to, by creating a huge image on the landscape to behold from high above, and implored to bring more water to the lands. In Mayan lore the Monkey is associated with fertility and agriculture. The most sensible explanation for the existence of the figures, for their large size and perfect execution, is that they were made for the gods.

The Spider with two straight lines passing through it points to a star in the constellation of Orion. The Hummingbird too, was observed in the sky as a constellation by the mountain folk. Other constellations have yet to be identified because everybody sees something different in the heavens, the jungle people for instance have a constellation of a man eaten by a crocodile, but the people in this region see the same constellation as a llama.


I am most interested in how the ancient people solved the technical problem of producing these huge figure drawings in such perfect proportions, at the same time not being able to recognize their shape from the ground. Enlarging the image from a smaller model could have only done this. But the model could not have been too small! For instance, it would take the figure of the monkey (18 meters in diameter), the toes having a length of less then 2 meters. In order to have every detail of the figure appear on the chart in its proper size and direction, proportion, and position, within the figures in a way that could have been enlarged, the chart must have been at least the length of 2 meters. The only material for such a chart is cloth.

In excavations at the foot of the plains people have found huge bolts of plain cloth without drawings. I have often found small pieces of red and white chalk on the Pampa which did not belong to the area, but which could have been used to make drawings on the cloth. We know that these people not only wove their patterns on cloth, but also drew, and painted them.

Another thing that was necessary for enlarging images from one scale to the other was a unit of measurement. It took me many years to find it but now I believe I have it with great certainty. It is a simple unit derived from the length of the human body and also half its length that we can see in the figure of the “Tumi”, the so-called ceremonial knife with a human representation. It is about 80 cm or 1 step. Half of this, about 40 cm, is the Egyptian cubit measured from the thumb to the elbow. I derived this unit from the comparative study of the curves of the figures. There are figures that consist exclusively of curves like the monkey, and the spider, so regular that we can be sure that they have been made with a stake and a cord, like a huge compass. For many places the curve was a unit 40-cm, they also had half a unit of about 20-cm, or a span. That is the absolute smallest unit in all the figures, and it is found in the toes of the monkey and in the 4 -meter long fingers.

The method of constructing the succeeding arcs of the figure is the same method employed in road construction where a curved road is considered a succession of arcs of different radii. In order to obtain the continuity of the curve the builders employed this method, and also a method where the center of the following, curves to be on the end radius of the preceding. Then we have a tangent in common where the curve continues. If we have an accurate map of a figure to within 2 cm accuracy we can superimpose on such a chart a very geometric construction based on these principles and on the unit of measurement, and get a perfect coincidence, proving that this work was done with absolute accuracy. This accuracy was employed in abstract figures like spirals and figures derived from spirals. So there must have been a reason. I believe we can find it in the same way that the pyramids are explained – that the length was considered as intervals of time.


In several figures I found the radii of succeeding curves added after certain intervals, arrives at the number 29 1/2, which is the lunar month from one full moon to the next. The importance of the length of the month and of the different lunar phases can be explained for agricultural purposes. Here in Peru from ancient times to present, the people had this knowledge that certain seeds have to be sown at a certain age of the moon, times when the moon is 8 days old or 2 weeks old, and so forth. This would explain the fact that drawing activity was done to preserve knowledge, the knowledge that humanity has garnered over hundreds and thousands of years for the practical purpose of survival.


Guardian of the Nasca Lines Maria Reiche
Gone At Age 95

Maria Reiche (pronounced RYE-kuh), a German mathematician who dedicated half a century to protecting and studying massive ancient Nazca Lines in the Peruvian desert, died June 8, 1998, from stomach cancer at the age of 95, doctors said. Reiche became a legend in Peru for her almost single-handed battle to preserve the Nazca lines, mysterious animal figures and geometrical triangles, runways and rectangles scratched into the desert floor about 250 miles (400 km) south of Lima. The white figures, known as geoglyphs, measuring up to 1.2 miles (1.9 km) in length and etched in shallow ditches, can be fully appreciated only from the air

For years before the lines became a UNESCO World Heritage site, Reiche guarded them so zealously that even after she was confined to a wheelchair she was known to chase trespassers off the sand dunes near the lines. “This is a really painful and sad loss for Peruvian archeology,” President Alberto Fujimori told reporters during a trip to the United States.

“We will remember her as a scientist who made a mark of transcendental importance for the good of the lines. Perhaps the ‘Nasca lines’ should even be renamed after her,” he said. Reiche, who became a Peruvian citizen in 1994, died in an Air Force hospital in Lima surrounded by family members. German and Peruvian flags flew at half-staff in Nasca and authorities declared a day of mourning in the southern town, where she will be buried tomorrow on the site of her home, adjacent to the Nazca Lines.

The scholar’s tireless work promoting the pre-Columbian drawings persuaded UNESCO to declare the 200 square mile area a world heritage site in 1995. The figures of a hummingbird, a monkey, a man, a spider and other geometric figures were thought to have been created by members of the Nasca culture between 700 B.C. and 900 A.D. although other investigations show the Lines to be much older. Their meaning is a mystery and has been the object of centuries of speculation. Reiche, who invested all of her money in a foundation to preserve the lines, earned international respect for her theories that the Nasca peoples used the drawings’ alignment with the sun as a calendar.

But her work was also costly to her health. Exposure in the bright sun eventually caused her to go blind and she suffered skin ailments as her white complexion became heavily-wrinkled and turned a black-berry color. In the last few years, illnesses, including Parkinson’s Disease, kept her away from the lines and she has spent long periods in hospital for cancer treatment.

During her life she received numerous honors and acknowledgement, especially from the town of Nazca that named her “Nazca’s Favorite Daughter”. In 1992, the Government of Peru granted her Peruvian nationality in recognition of her work carried out through 50 years. In 1993 she was honored by the Government with the Medal to the Merit, “Orden del Sol” in the degree of Great Cross by the Peruvian Prime Minister. She was buried in Nazca with Honors of State.