Aerial view of the Hummingbird, one of the most well-preserved figures (93 meters long) at Nazca Lines. Getty Images
The mystery of Peru’s Nazca Lines may have been solved by experts who think the drawings actually depict exotic birds to please the gods during ‘rain dances’.
The huge carvings in the Andean desert were carved by an ancient Peruvian civilization 2,000 years ago and have baffled scientists for decades as they try to work out why they were created.
Some anthropologists think the Nazca Lines were designed to please the gods, which the ancient people thought were looking down from the sky.
Now, a team of researchers that has been analyzing the giant drawings has noticed that the birds depicted do not come from the area but from far off rainforests or coastal areas.
They have proposed that this is because the carvings were made in honor of creatures who were thought to bring rain, as the society would have been highly dependent on rainfall to survive.
Researchers from Hokkaido University in Japan have released a paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports explaining how lots of the Nazca Line drawings were incorrectly classified and that some of them actually represent exotic birds.
They claim that two of the desert carvings depict pelicans, often associated with the coast, and others represent rainforest birds like parrots and hummingbirds, such as the Long-tailed Hermit hummingbird.
The researchers wrote: “The amount of rainfall in the highlands was estimated by observing the migrations of seabirds.
“When seabirds migrate to mountainous regions of the Nazca pampas during November and December, it is expected that rain will fall in the highlands. On the other hand, if migrating seabirds are not observed, water shortages are feared.”
They concluded that the ancient Peruvian people thought the birds carried the weather with them and brought seawater to the hills and rain from the rainforests.
The carvings could, therefore, be signs of honoring the birds, worshipping them or hoping for them to come back.
They could have been used for ceremonial purposes like the rain dance rituals that are connected to other desert tribes.