On the vast pampas of Nazca Jumana, mysterious lines and geoglyphs form geometric patterns as well the figures of animals, anthropomorphic beings, and plants, among others. But their outlines can only be recognized clearly from the sky aboard small airplanes. Despite numerous studies, the lines are an enduring 2,000-year-old mystery that neither time, nor the regions powerful winds, nor any other natural adversaries have been able to erase.
Since their discovery in 1927, many theories have been advanced. María Reiche, the German scholar who dedicated her life to the investigation and preservation of the lines, put forth the hypothesis of an astronomical calendar whose figures marked different solar periods. She discovered the ancient practice of carving ditches in the hard, dry soil and filling them with stones brought from distant lands. The component of natural gypsum that exists in the region would have helped preserve the figures over thousands of years.
Among the best-known figures are the hummingbird, the condor, and the monkey. There are more than 800 images outlined in the desert.
The best way to view the extensive tracings is by flyover in the light aircraft that take off from the Nazca airport. On the Panamericana Sur there are also viewing sites, but only a few of the figures can be fully seen from there.