- william d
- BBC News World correspondent in Peru
The Nazca Lines, located in southern Peru, are a historical mystery that for decades has sparked the imagination and curiosity of travelers, historians, and archaeologists.
It is known today that the giant lines and geoglyphs were the work of the people of the Nazca culture, who inhabited the province of Ica between the 1st and 7th centuries, in the coastal desert of central southern Peru, but there are still many unknowns, which has given rise to the most diverse interpretations, some of them strange. Like the one who attributes it to the work of aliens.
It is also known that neither the culture of Nazca nor its magnificent lines would have been possible without another great monument that is not much talked about: Nazca channelsAnd An exceptional system of underground wells and channels This allowed the Nazca people to wild the fields and produce the food necessary for a prosperous culture to thrive in one of the most arid and inhospitable regions of the American continent.
It has been dubbed “the eyes of water” because of the water collection points in the channels and the spiral-shaped openings with a depth of about seven meters that allow water to be perceived at some points of the network.
“Without water there is no life, so… All this unique culture would not have been possible without the water channels“.
Cogorno is part of a project to preserve the aqueducts in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, UNESCO and the Peruvian multinational soft drink group AJE Group. Many of them are still in use today and are used to supply water to the residents of the area.
What are the Nazca channels?
The Nazca aqueducts are an amazingly advanced water system for that time.
According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture, most of them were built between the years 300 and 500, between the periods known as Early Nazca and Middle Nazca. It is estimated that it dates back to a date close to the history of geographical lines and inscriptions.
It is a system of galleries filtration, with wells, cisterns and channels, some underground and others outdoors, dug by the Nazca, who were able to extract the water contained in the water table beneath the desert terrain they inhabited.
The system captures water from the water table by filtration and transports it through underground, uncovered sections until it is stored in a reservoir from which it is later distributed to crop fields.
The operational canals are more than 9.5 kilometers long and manage more than 3,000 hectares of land.
Alberto Martorell, head of the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Ica, points out that “this is how they used water from seepage and snowfall from the Andes, which passed through the subsoil and was collected from there through canals An area where there is no surface water for most of the year“.
The Nazca culture was admired by those who studied it for its knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, and the aqueducts are another example of the wisdom of this ancient and mysterious world.
Martorell notes, however, that although the net was primarily intended for irrigation, “the proximity of some springs to others indicates that they also had a ceremonial use”.
Because it matters
The Nazca culture is a rich pre-Hispanic civilization whose legacy fills many Peruvians with pride, and historians agree that its development She played a major role On human evolution on the territory of present-day Peru.
Although a minority of authors assert that they were created during the Spanish colonial era, most experts consider the Nazca aqueducts to be one of the most original creations of this culture and one of the most decisive in its development.
It is “a unique hydraulic system in the Andean world,” stressed archaeologist Abdelili.
For this reason, they have been protected by the State of Peru as a cultural asset of the nation since 2006 and UNESCO is cooperating in efforts to preserve them.
Its use continues to the present It has become a vital issue for the residents of the regionbeyond their historical or cultural value.
The better preserved aqueducts are still in use, but others have suffered a worse fate.
Yali explains, “Some aqueducts are completely neglected and some have disappeared due to the urbanization of Ica.”
Yali was responsible for the Okungala and Kantalok Canal Rehabilitation Project. At Okungala, 500 meters of bush have been cleared and 120 meters of walls reinforced.
The aim is to continue working in the medium term with other aqueducts and to establish an archaeological interpretation center in Okungala that will help deepen learning about the wise use of water, a theme that is perfectly valid today.
For Cogorno, who is dedicated to continuing work to restore the legacy of the Nazca culture, “lines and canals Make an amazing creation This is why it is a sacred site in which one feels the value of thousands of years of history and is worth preserving.”
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