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No. 110: Mar-Apr 1997

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Although the famous Nazca lines and figures etched into Peru's Atacama Desert are assuredly not part of an extraterrestrial landing field, they still may have a stellar connection of sorts. P.B. Pitluga, of Chicago's Adler Planetarium, proposes that some of the figures may be part of a Zodiac; that is, a terrestrial representation of the constellations. Here follows an abstract of her paper presented before a meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration.

"New field measurements and computer analysis link the gigantic ground drawings to the Andean tradition of dividing up space and time by cycles of the Milky Way. By including ethnoastronomy in the analysis, these conclusions differ from [those of] previous researchers. The first hypothesis tested was that the figures could be considered like labels to the lines. Of the twenty-seven figures, ten are birds, three are whales, and two are seaweed plants. Theodolite measurements revealed a non-random distribution of the directions of lines attached to look-alike figures. The second test showed a physical relationship of present-day Andean plant and animal figures imagined as silhouettes in dark spots along the Milky Way to figure-lines pointing to the rising and/or setting of the same Andean figure 2000 years ago. In the third test, all other lines extending to the desert horizon from a figure center keyed into dark spots and bright stars along the Milky Way at the same Local Sidereal Time in the same year. Finally, the directions of the long axis of each quadrangle related to the same sky in the same year at each site. Linking these findings with what is known about the Nazca culture, an agricultural-ceremonial model is presented describing how this site may have been used."

(Pitluga, Phyllis Burton; The Explorer, 12:1, Summer 1996. The Explorer is a newsletter published by the Society for Scientific Exploration. Address: P.O. Box 5848, Stanford, CA 94309-5848.)

Comment. Probably the best-known terrestrial Zodiac is that alleged to be composed of natural and artificial land forms in the vicinity of Glastonbury, England. See also SF#104 for the "Pit Zodiacs" said to be arrayed in the environs of Muggenberg, Netherlands.

From Science Frontiers #110, MAR-APR 1997. 1997-2000 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