Published: March 2010



Spirits in the Sand

The ancient Nasca lines of Peru shed their secrets.

By Stephen S. Hall
Photograph by Robert Clark

From the air, the lines etched in the floor of the desert were hard to see, like drawings left in the sun too long. As our pilot cut tight turns over a desert plateau in southern Peru, north of the town of Nasca, I could just make out a succession of beautifully crafted figures.

"Orca!" shouted Johny Isla, a Peruvian archaeologist, over the roar of the engine. He pointed down at the form of a killer whale. "¡Mono!" he said moments later, when the famous Nasca monkey came into view. “¡Colibrí!” The hummingbird.

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