Nazca Lines: Mysterious Geoglyphs in Peru
The Nazca (also spelled Nasca) Lines are geoglyphs located in an arid coastal area of Peru that cover an estimated 170 square miles (450 square kilometers). Scratched on the ground, they number in the thousands and depict creatures from both the natural world and the human imagination. They include animals such as the spider, hummingbird, monkey, lizard, pelican and even a killer whale. Also depicted are plants, trees, flowers and oddly shaped fantastic figures. Also illustrated are geometric motifs such as wavy lines, triangles, spirals and rectangles.
The great pyramid-filled city of Teotihuacan went into decline about 1,400 years ago and was left in such ruins that no one knows who its builders were or what they called their home. The Aztecs, who would later make pilgrimages to the site, gave it its modern name, which means “the place where the gods were created.”
Teotihuacan was a major urban area. It covered about 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) and was likely home to 100,000 people, many living in apartment-like multi-family structures. But the city is best known for its expansive “Avenue of the Dead” and major pyramid complexes.
Among the largest religious monuments ever created, Angkor Wat stands out for its gorgeous towers and intricate artwork. The temple city, which sits in what is now Cambodia, was built between A.D. 1113 and 1150. Its towers are meant to elicit the mythological Hindu mountain Mount Meru, and the temple was originally built in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu. Several hundred years later, Angkor Wat was transformed into a Buddhist site.
The banks of the Mississippi in the Midwest aren’t necessarily known for world-class cities (sorry, St. Louis). But between A.D. 1050 and A.D. 1200, a city flourished right across from what is today St. Louis that was larger than London in size.
Cahokia was spread over six square miles (16 square km) and was home to as many as 20,000 people. Modern development covers much of the site, but archaeologists have discovered that Cahokians drank caffeinated beverages and played a game known as “Chunkey.” The city may have included a wooden temple and a wooden Stonehenge-like structure, perhaps important for keeping track of solstices and equinoxes.