Walking on the dry, desert plains of Nasca in southern Peru, you’d be hard pressed to notice anything unusual. But fly over the region in an airplane and you will see something truly amazing and unexplained. Etched into the hard-packed earth are giant images and symbols, called geoglyphs. There are more than a hundred of these geoglyphs, allegedly made by the Nasca culture between 500 BCE and 500 CE. In addition to numerous long, straight lines that look a bit like runways, there are recognizable images, such as birds, fish, monkeys, and humans.
The strangest thing is that these images were clearly meant to be viewed from above, yet they were made centuries before air travel was possible. At ground level, the difference in color between the surface stone and the stone just below the surface is hardly distinguishable. But from above, the images can be easily seen. How were these images created on such a large scale is as much as mystery as why they were etched. Were they religious or ceremonial symbols? Or were they meant to guide visitors from above?