The Nazca lines are one of the most intriguing mysteries of the ancient world. Located in the south Peruvian plateau, it is a group of giant geoglyphs etched into the ground. Geoglyphs are works of art built using rocks, stone fragments, gravel, and even trees. What makes the Nazca lines interesting is that hundreds of them span a wide area, and no one knows who built them and why.
They date from around 500BC - though archaeologists are still unsure about this estimate. There are around 300 of them depicting different animals, human figures, and plants like the Spider, Condor, Tree, Monkey, Parrot, and Flower, amongst many others. Many of the geoglyphs can't be seen at ground level despite measuring roughly 1km across. They were also only discovered in the 1920s when airplanes came to be, and pilots flying over the area noticed the images.
However, in the 1990s, tourists discovered a different set of drawings between Palpa and the Nasca Plateau. Instead of the usual depictions of nature, this group was given the name "estrellas" - or "stars" in Spanish due to their geometrically correct and highly complex designs.
The estrellas include circles, squares, points, and line designs that measure over 130 meters. They are also nearly impossible to see from the surface, only coming out clearly in high-resolution photos, drone images, or viewing on an angle due to the terrain.
When they were first discovered, no one took the estrellas seriously. Many considered them a hoax or a tourist trap. Until a second group was found with a similar design, though this depicted a more intricate geometric shape dubbed "The Mandala." There are 18 estrellas, each designed with increasing degrees of complexity, connected by one line that runs through them all. Each estrella's geometric formation is frighteningly precise, making us all ask how they did it and why.
Many historians believe that these geoglyphs, which are younger than the Nazca lines, were created by the Huari civilization, which came after the Nazcan people. The Huari is credited for creating the "tocapu", a popular geometric design consisting of complex circles and squares found in Peruvian art, fashion and more. The tocapu is highly similar to the creation of the estrellas. The Huari most likely continued the Nazcan tradition of creating geoglyphs but incorporated tocapu inspired designs, as opposed to animals, thereby making the estrellas.
There have been numerous theories as to why the estrellas were constructed at all. They might have been offerings to the gods and deities they worshipped. Each Estrella could also have been a way to mark solstices and the changing of the seasons.
We may never really know their true purpose, but archaeologists should continue to study them. The estrellas provides insights into just how "modern" the ancient civilizations were in terms of designing long-lasting structures using some form of physics, science, geometry, engineering, and math. Hopefully, one day, both the Nazca lines and the estrellas will give up their secrets.