Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 102: Nov-Dec 1995

Issue Contents

Other pages











The candelabra of the andes

Geoglyph in Canalabra
595 feet from top to bottom and visible far out at sea. What was the purpose behind this strange geoglyph?
One of the most engimatic giant ground drawings (or "geoglyphs") in South America is seen best from several miles out at sea. Etched into a sloping hill at Pisco Bay on the Peruvian coast, this strange figure looks vaguely like a candlestick; thus, its name "The Candelabra of the Andes." The Candelabra is 595 feet long and can be seen from as far as 12 miles out to sea. Pottery found near the figure has been carbondated at 200 BC and is assignable to the Paracas Culture. Separated by 130 miles from the Nazca Plain, with its famed giant figures, the Candelabra apparently is not the work of the Nazca people. It is puzzling why that such a figure would be placed where it could be seen best by sailors. As with Costa Rica's stone spheres, the Candelabra's makers, purpose, and symbology are in doubt.

The Pisco geoglyph really doesn't match the motifs in our books on South American archeology. Some archeologists say it is only a trident, but who ever saw a trident like this? F. Joseph, the author of the present article, thinks it looks like a Jimson weed! Furthermore, he states that there is a miniature version of the Candelabra drawn on a rock in California's Cleveland National Forest. Joseph associates the two candelabras in this way: The ancient inhabitants of Peru voyaged to California to collect Jimson weed and other hallucinatory drugs. When they sailed back to Peru with their cargo, they used the Pisco geoglyph as a navigational aid! (Joseph, Frank; "The Candelabra of the Andes," The Ancient American, 2:10, no. 10, 1995.)

From Science Frontiers #102 Nov-Dec 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss