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Cahuachi, in Peru, was a major ceremonial center of the Nazca culture, based from 1 CE to about 500 CE in the coastal area of the Central Andes. It overlooked some of the Nazca lines. The Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici has been excavating at the site for the past few decades . The site contains over 40 mounds topped with adobe structures. The huge architectural complex covers 0.6 sq. miles (1.5 km2). The American archeologist Helaine Silverman has also conducted long term, multi-stage research and written about the full context of Nazca society at Cahuachi, published in a lengthy study in 1993.
Scholars once thought the site was the capital of the Nazca state but have determined that the permanent population was quite small. They believe that it was a pilgrimage center, whose population increased greatly in relation to major ceremonial events. New research has suggested that 40 of the mounds were natural hills modified to appear as artificial constructions. Support for the pilgrimage theory comes from archaeological evidence of sparse population at Cahuachi, the spatial patterning of the site, and ethnographic evidence from the Virgin of Yauca pilgrimage in the nearby Ica Valley (Silverman 1994).
Looting is the greatest problem facing the site today. Most of the burial sites surrounding Cahuachi were not known until recently and are tempting targets for looters.
Desert labyrinth: lines, landscape and meaning at Nazca, Peru
The shapes drawn out by the famous Nazca lines in the Peruvian desert are at their most evident from the air—giving rise to some famously fantastic theories about their origin. The new understanding offered here is the result of a piece of straightforward brilliance on the part of our authors: get down on the ground, where the original users were, and see where your feet lead you. Using stratigraphic and taphonomic reasoning to decide which lines were contemporary, they discover an itinerary so complex they can justify calling it a labyrinth, and see it as serving ceremonial progressions.
Archaeoastronomer Clive Ruggles of the University of Leicester in England discovered the labyrinth — a single path leading to and from an earthen mound, with a series of disorienting twists and turns along its flat, 4.4-kilometer-long course — by walking it himself. From the ground, little of the labyrinth is visible, even while ambling through it. From the air, it’s difficult to recognize the array of landscape lines as a connected entity. In the December Antiquity, Ruggles and archaeologist Nicholas Saunders of the University of Bristol in England describe and map what they regard as a carefully planned labyrinth from the ancient Nazca (sometimes spelled Nasca) culture. Nazca civilization flourished in southern coastal Peru from around 2,100 to 1,300 years ago. “This labyrinth was meant to be walked, not seen,” Ruggles says. “The element of surprise was crucial to the experience of Nazca labyrinth walking.”
Originally posted by Quadrivium
As always, GREAT THREAD S&F. I wish they would have put a little more color into those rendition photos. I doubt if it was all desert at the time it was built.