According to NPR, the truck driver ignored numerous warning signs before plowing into the archaeological area across several lines, causing significant damage to the UNESCO World Heritage site. The truck left “deep scars” which damaged three lines. A magistrate decided there was not enough evidence to charge the driver. However, the Nazca’s prosecutor’s office is appealing the judge’s decision.
The Nazca Lines have ignited the world’s imagination since they were discovered. The Daily Mail reports that the geoglyphs were first spotted from the air in 1939 when a pilot flew over the Nazca region of the Peruvian coastal highlands. The archeological site stretches more than 50 miles (80 km) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, 248 miles (400 km) south of Lima, and it has lasted for over 2,000 years. Its size and scope are incomparable to any other group geoglyphs anywhere in the world.
UNESCO described the Nazca Lines as “the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world and it is unmatched in its extent, magnitude, quantity, size, diversity and ancient tradition to any similar work in the world.”
There are about 700 geoglyphs in total, divided into two groups. The first group represents natural objects, such as animals, including a whale, a monkey, a dog, a condor, and insects. The second group consists of geometrical figures. And of course, the one that is perhaps the most famous and most intriguing of them all, the geoglyph that resembles an astronaut.
Their mystery has sparked all kinds of theories, such as time travelers or extraterrestrials are responsible for the geoglyphs, or that they are astrological markers.
What we know is that the lines were built by the Nazca people, who predated the Incas by as much as 2,000 years. They flourished for eight centuries in which they treated the desert as an enormous canvas. Using their hands and rudimentary tools, they dug shallow trenches, removing the dark stones and topsoil to reveal the lighter colored earth underneath, creating literally hundreds of enormous lines; the geoglyphs we see today.
We can still see them thanks to the Peruvian environment, one of the driest on Earth. The harsh sun has hardened and set the lines in the clay and gypsum soil.
Unfortunately, the geoglyphs have been invaded before. In 2014, Greenpeace planted a message there in advance of U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru.