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No. 28: Jul-Aug 1983

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Nazca Figures Duplicated

More complex Nazca fifure Sensational literature makes much of the huge geometrical figures and outlines of animals etched into the high Peruvian tablelands. Most of these figures and lines are so large that one can fully appreciate them only from the air. This fact has led some writers to invoke ancient astronauts and even ancient Peruvian balloon technology. The fact of the matter is that archeological evidence is pretty convincing that the Nazca Indians constructed the lines about 500 A.D. But did they have extraterrestrial help or use some advanced technology?

The author of the subject article, with the help of a few friends, answered these questions quite convincingly -- in the negative -- in the summer of 1982. Using sticks and string, they scaled up a small copy of the famous Nazca "condor" into a 440-foot replica of the real thing on a Kentucky landfill. The scaling up involved no high technology; in fact, even angular measurements were avoided. Instead of removing stones to make the lines, as the Nazcans did, lime was applied. The whole figure was laid out and limed in just a few man-hours. Then, from an aircraft at 1,000 feet, photos were taken. Lo and behold, a very convincing replica of the Nazca condor appeared on the prints. Still unanswered, though, is why anyone would want to make such huge drawings.

(Nickell, Joe; "The Nazca Drawings Revisited: Creation of a Full-Sized Duplicate," Skeptical Inquirer, 7:36, Spring 1983.)

Comment. While some of the animal figures and arrays of lines may have had ritual or archeoastronomical purposes, others seem too complex for such simple explanations. Of course, to the Nazca Indians the purpose was probably simple and obvious.

Reference. Much more on the Nazca lines appears in our Handbook: Ancient Man. This book is described here.

Nazca figure

From Science Frontiers #28, JUL-AUG 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987