Japanese Find New Nazca
Lines In Peru
Apr. 21, 2006.
Source: Mainichi Daily, and Yamagata
A new giant picture
on the Nazca Plateau in
Peru, which is famous
for giant patterns that can be seen from the
air, has been discovered by a team of Japanese
The image is 210
feet long, and appears to be an animal with
horns. It is thought to have been drawn as a
symbol of hopes for good crops, but there are no
similar patterns elsewhere, and the type of the
animal remains unclear. The discovery marks the first time since
the 1980s that a picture other than a
geometrical pattern has been found on the Nazca
Plateau, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Thursday.
The picture was
found by a team of researchers including Masato
Sakai, an associate professor at Yamagata
University, after they analyzed images from a
U.S. commercial satellite. They confirmed it was
a previously undiscovered picture in a local
survey in March this year. It is located at the
south of the Nazca Plateau, and apparently went
undiscovered since few tourist planes pass over
There is evidence
that vehicles had driven in the area, and part
of the picture is destroyed.
Two parts of the
picture, that appear to be horns, bear close
resemblance to those that appear on earthenware
dating from 100 B.C. to A.D. 600, during the
time when the Nazca kingdom flourished, and it
is thought that they relate to fertility rites.
The research team
will use images from the advanced land-observing
satellite "Daichi," which was launched by the
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in January
this year, to create a distribution map of
images on the earth that can be seen from the
Japanese team finds mystery lines in Peru
Apr. 21, 2006. Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun
A team of Japanese
researchers have discovered a set of strange
lines on the ground on a plateau in Peru.
The series of about
100 lines--some straight and some curving--form
patterns and pictures hundreds of meters across
that seem to represent humans and animals. The
patterns were discovered on the Nazca Plateau in
Peru by a research group from Yamagata
University, the team announced Wednesday. The
plateau is a World Heritage Site for other
similar patterns known as the Nazca Lines.
The Cultural Affairs
Agency said it would be the first time for
Japanese researchers to discover new Nazca
University researchers, led by assistant Prof.
Masato Sakai of the Faculty of Literature and
Social Sciences began mapping the Nazca Lines in
autumn 2004 to preserve them and to try to
determine their purpose.
photos taken by a U.S. commercial satellite and
found images in the southwestern part of the
plateau. The group visited the site in December
2004 and March this year, and confirmed the
presence of the previously undiscovered lines.
stretches 20 kilometers from east to west and 15
kilometers from south to north. About 700 lines
depicting animals, plants and geometric patterns
have been found.
finds 100 new geoglyphs in Peru
Apr. 20, 2006. Source: Yamagata (Kyodo)
said Thursday they have discovered about 100 new
geoglyphs on Peru's Nasca plateau, a designated
UNESCO World Heritage site known for mysterious
landscape designs visible from the air.
The researchers, led
by Masato Sakai, assistant professor at Yamagata
University's faculty of literature and social
sciences, said they first found the new
geoglyphs by analyzing photos of the Nasca
plateau taken by a commercial U.S. satellite.
Some of the
geoglyphs have been damaged by wheel ruts.
Many of them depict
geometric figures, including straight lines and
triangles, the researchers said.
The designs, which
look similar to those found on Nazca
earthenware, were found in the southern part of
the plateau and are believed to be related to
civilization flourished between 100 B.C. and
The lines and
geoglyphs of Nazca and the Pampas of Jumana were
put on the U.N. Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization's World Heritage list in
Mysterious gigantic etchings discovered in Peru
April 20, 2006, Source: Middle East Times - Cairo,Egypt
TOKYO - Japanese
researchers said on Thursday that they had found
100 more drawings on Peru's Nazca plateau, whose
giant etchings dating up to 2,500 years ago are
one of archaeology's greatest mysteries.
The new images on
the World Heritage Site include both straight
lines, as have been discovered for the past
century, and abstract images that are difficult
to make out.
"We confirmed them
by analyzing satellite photos and actually
visiting there in March," said Masato Sakai,
assistant professor at Yamagata University in
The Nazca Lines,
many of which can only be seen from the sky,
were believed to have been etched on the ground
between 500 BC and AD 500.
The reason why
ancient people traced the lines remains one of
archaeology's greatest mysteries. The most
common theory is that the drawings were used for
rituals, while believers in extraterrestrials
have cited them as evidence of alien spacecraft
Most of the
newly-found designs were in the southern part of
the Nazca plateau, which is away from the major
tourist area to the north where hundreds of
images have been discovered, Sakai said.
One of the satellite
pictures showed a figure, 65 meters (215 feet)
long, which looks like an animate being with two
horns. The team believes that the image is
related to good harvests.
geoglyphs, some 400 kilometers south of Lima,
include representations of animals, flowers and
plants but are mostly abstract. The site was put
on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1994. The
team plans to publish its findings in a science
magazine in Peru.
unlocks mysteries of Peru's geoglyphs
May 24, 2006, Source: Daily Yomiuri by Makiko
Yanada / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
Masato Sakai has discovered about 100 new
geoglyphs on Peru's Nazca Plateau, a U.N. World
Heritage Site known for its ancient giant
etchings in the ground, known as the Nazca
Lines. There are about 700 confirmed designs at
the site in the likeness of monkeys, birds and
various geometric patterns.
associate professor at Yamagata University wrote
his masters thesis on Chimu, an Andean kingdom
that prospered from the 10th to 15th centuries
in present-day southern Peru. In his thesis he
said tombs of Chimu kings and their relatives
were sited in relation to the mountains and the
stars. For the Chimu and other Andean
civilizations, which had no written language
before Spain's conquest in the 16th century, the
positions of the tombs are meant to tell later
generations the order of the kings.
Believing there is
meaning in the distribution of the geoglyphs,
which date from the mysterious Nazca period (1st
century B.C. to the 6th century), Sakai examined
satellite imagery of the site instead of aerial
photographs, which conventionally had been used
for the study of Nazca designs and were more
expensive and of lower quality.
Looking at the
photographs, he found the image of an animal in
July that looked similar to designs used as an
invocation for good harvests found on
Sakai confirmed the
drawing with a field study in Peru in March.
Convinced there may exist many more undiscovered
designs, he plans to spend five years making a
distribution map of the area.
To solve the meaning
of the ancient geoglyphs, he formed a study team
with a psychologist and a geographer. He spends
at least two months a year in South America.
In his lectures,
Sakai stresses to the students the difficulties
in preserving the geoglyphs rather than telling
about the significance of his discoveries.
Abstract designs are being ruined by wheel
tracks and in some places being used as dumping
sites, Sakai said.
"As people live in
World Heritage Sites, we have to think of how
people and heritage can coexist," he said.
barbarism and mystery from the land of the Nazca
May 4, 2006, Source: Daily Yomiuri by Makiko
Yanada / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
drawings of birds and animals and
kilometers-long geometrical patterns of the
Nazca Lines in the desert of southern Peru have
long inspired the imaginations of people around
the world. To this day, some believe the "geoglyphs"
were created by or for extraterrestrial visitors
to our planet.
The creators of the
lines were in fact ancient people of the Nazca
civilization (ca 100 B.C. to A.D. 700), but it
remains unclear exactly why the geoglyphs were
drawn on the plain. One recent theory says the
lines had something to do with water, and the
ancient people walked along them in ritual
ceremonies beseeching the gods for rain.
The U.N. World
Heritage Site is today most impressive when
surveyed from the air. But it's a long,
expensive trip to Peru from Japan, which many
won't be able to make. But one current
exhibition is offering similar "flights" from a
rather more convenient location--the National
Museum of Science, Tokyo.
Running until June
18, Nasca, Wonder of the World: Messages Etched
on the Desert Floor (the organization uses an
alternate spelling of the place-name), invites
visitors to enjoy an aerial view of the Lines by
projecting images of the geoglyphs onto a huge
screen using state-of-the-art virtual reality
The projection is
this exhibition's grand finale, but by the time
visitors get to it they may already be
overwhelmed by the beautiful array of pottery
and textiles, as well as astonishingly
well-preserved mummies, that offer an insight
into the lives of the ancient Nazca people.
Items on display
include vessels decorated with various
motifs--from farmers, musicians and shamans to
birds, animals and mythical beings. The images
are generally red-brown, but the colors are
amazingly clear considering the fact that they
are products of about 2,000 years ago.
The pottery tells us
that these ancient people were talented artists
who frequently included elements of humor in
their work, even when depicting supernatural
events. One vessel--Spectacled Proliferous
Anthropomorphic Mythical Being--is a good
example, being decorated with an intricate
pattern of comical-looking faces.
At the same time,
visitors can also see what good designers the
Nazca were, creating practical utensils that
were also remarkable works of art depicting the
people and things around them. For example, a
bowl titled Semi-modeled Fish has a rim made up
of fish that appear to be trying to swim out of
the center of the pot. The jug Mountainous
Terrain with Cacti and Snakes may make visitors
wonder how they created its ruggedly contoured
surface, which evokes the hills and mountains of
the Nazca land.
also testify to the weaving skills of the Nazca
people. Using repeating patterns and bold
designs, edgings for cloaks were illuminated
with vivid depictions of birds, whales or
The most attractive
textile works on display are a set of three
gorgeous embroidered mantles used to wrap one of
about 400 funerary bundles that were recovered
from a necropolis on the Paracas Peninsula in
the 1920s by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello.
cloths--the biggest is 247 by 143
centimeters--underwent eight months of
restoration work for this exhibition.
Each Paracas Mantle
features a symmetrical arrangement of mythical
beings--or shamans impersonating such
beings--with every figure meticulously
described. Although each work has basically the
same mythical beings, no two figures share the
same details or color palette. The embroidered
images clearly suggest that the Nazca people had
a highly developed spiritual life.
The National Museum
of Archeology, Anthropology and History of Peru
keeps more than 1,000 mummy bundles collected by
Tello. To give a clearer image of the ancient
people for this exhibition, Japanese and
Peruvian researchers have unwrapped one such
bundle, containing a child.
The face of the Late
Nasca Mummy of a Child is seeing daylight for
the first time after 1,300 years. Scientific
examinations have revealed that the child died
around age 6, but its sex cannot be determined.
With a height of 53
centimeters, the mummy is displayed in a way
that puts it almost "eye to eye" with
visitors--and meeting the gaze of the child is
an unsettling experience that's hard to maintain
for more than a short time.
The exhibition also
features some unique customs of the Nazca
culture, such as the artificial cranial
deformation seen in an array of skulls shown
custom was the headhunting of enemies, with
trophy heads taken home as souvenirs from
successful battles. Among the exhibits here is a
real trophy head garbed in cloth.
Some pottery on
display directly refers to this tradition.
Modeled Cache of Trophy Heads shows a pile of
severed heads, their eyes still open, while two
other bottles show how victims' lips were
pricked with spines.
The custom seems
barbaric today, but it was a normal and
important part of life for the Nazca people. For
them, trophy heads were symbolic of reproduction
and resurrection, and considered important items
that were used in various magic and religious
rituals, such as praying for bountiful harvests.
In this way, the
Science Museum exhibition is about more than
just beautiful art, also offering a penetrating
insight into a vanished civilization.
Until June 18 at the
National Science Museum, Tokyo, in Ueno Park, a
five-minute walk from the park exit of JR Ueno
Station. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on
Fridays). Closed on Mondays. Admission is 1,400
yen for adults and university students and 500
yen for primary to high school students. For
www.kahaku.go.jp or call (03)
5777-8600. The exhibition will move to the
Kagoshima Prefectural Museum of Culture (Reimeikan)
from July 26 to Sept. 3; the Shizuoka
Prefectural Museum of Art from Sept. 12 to Oct.
30; and the Oita Prefectural Art Hall from Dec.
14 to Feb. 4.
Nazca photos deepen mystery
May 24, 2006 Source: Chicago Tribune by Colin
The Nazca Lines have
been a source of mystery and dispute since their
discovery in southern Peru nearly a century ago.
So why should the latest find be any different?
recently released new aerial photographs of
figures etched in the ground of the Nazca
region, adding a fresh dollop of wonder to the
giant geometric patterns and animal drawings
that scientists say the Nazca Indians created as
many as 2,000 years ago.
expressed excitement about the announcement. But
Nazca experts said the Japanese discoveries
might merely be good photographs of previously
figures are new is a risk," said Josue Lancho
Rojas, a Nazca historian and writer. "You cannot
say at this time that there are any virgin
Even if the Japanese
figures are not new, the announcement exposed
shortcomings in Nazca scholarship. And it raised
new questions about the Peruvian government's
commitment to sophisticated scientific
There is no central
catalogue detailing the hundreds of lines and
figures already mapped and measured. There is no
database for archeologists or, for that matter,
a team headed by a literature professor from
Yamagata University in Japan, to refer to when
trying to piece together the history of the
"There are two
consequences to this `discovery,' one positive
and one negative," Lancho said. "The positive is
that a lot of tourists are going to come to
Nazca now, eager to see the new figures.
"The negative is
that once again it shows that the National
Institute of Culture has no central registry of
such a list would not be difficult, experts
said, but it would take time and money. Though
the Peruvian government profits greatly from the
flow of international tourists who come to Nazca
to fly over the lines for a dizzying display of
ancient accomplishment, Peruvian officials say
they could not afford such a project.
should open its doors and say that all the
scientists of the world, all the foundations,
are invited to come and work," Lancho said. "But
the Peruvian government puts up too many
obstacles to projects."
Though the Nazca
have been studied for decades, rich areas of
research remain, said Giuseppe Orefici, director
of the Italian Center for Pre-Columbian
Archeological Studies and Research.
One example is the
painstaking excavation of the Cahuachi complex,
the Nazca's ceremonial and administrative
center. Though Orefici's team has gathered a
treasure of artifacts and a wealth of knowledge
amid its pyramids and esplanade, Cahuachi is
little noticed outside select archeological
The Nazca emerged as
a distinct civilization about 200 years after
the time of Jesus Christ, and they flourished
for centuries until the Wari Indians usurped
them in the 800s. The Nazca created a system of
aqueducts still used today. They were skilled
with textiles and ceramics. And they were
prolific illustrators in the sand, gravel and
dirt of their Pacific Coast region.
There are the
best-known figures: The hummingbird and the
monkey. The spider, the whale and the humanoid
figure dubbed "The Astronaut." Trapezoids,
circles and long, straight lines seem to be
everywhere around Nazca.
The famous figures
are clear even to the untrained eye. But other
lines take work, and sometimes luck, to detect.
Whether a figure shows up clearly depends on
Winds take sand and
dirt and dust over the plains and hills that
were called home by the Nazca and their
ancestors, the Paracas. How sunlight falls on
the earth affects visibility, so some figures
can be spotted only at certain times of the day.
Having a good pilot who knows where and how to
look helps too.
The Japanese, for
example, needed several flights to identify
their figures. Among their more striking images:
what appears to be an animal with horns,
measuring nearly 200 feet long.
A hummingbird the
Japanese recorded might prove more interesting
to science, however. A Chilean colleague of
Orefici's noted that bird's genitalia appeared
different from that on other Nazca hummingbirds.
Perhaps this was connected to fertility, the
Such theories go to
the heart of what makes the Nazca Lines so
Science has debunked
the fanciful idea that beings from outer space
must have made the lines. The Nazca were capable
of designing the figures using a grid and
template system, experts have shown, and the
execution of the lines using ropes, sticks and
rocks is not complicated. The Nazca used the
lines in ceremonies, experts say, and some
probably are connected to a calendar.
But believers in
extraterrestrials still are drawn to Nazca. And
even many non-believers find something
otherworldly about the place.
Orefici is rueful
about how talk of UFOs or "new" Nazca lines
garners more attention than a critical dig at
the Grand Pyramid of Cahuachi. But he
understands it too.
"The Nazca Lines are
interesting because they create dreams," said
Orefici, an Italian who has studied in Peru for
30 years and curates the Antonini Museum in
Nazca. "It doesn't matter whether I can say they
are completely wrong. This is what people want.
"To be able to
dream, to leave normal life for a little bit,"
Orefici said. "This is a beautiful part of the
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