Global environmental challenges
Heavy rains wash away 1000-year-old “fingers” in Peru
By Dana Ford
In the bone-dry desert of Peru’s southern coast, time seems to stand still.
For more than a thousand years, the famous Nazca lines, giant geometric shapes and animal figures etched in the desert, have survived — virtually unchanged — delighting and baffling both researchers and tourists alike.
But people say nothing lasts. And maybe it’s true. Recently, a tiny part of the impressive lines — fingers on a pair of hands — were washed over by runoff from the pounding of unusually heavy rain.
Though the damage was slight, and can easily be fixed, it worries archeologists who say they cannot remember a time when rains ran over the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mario Olaechea, an archeologist with Peru’s National Culture Institute, has long preached on the need to do a better job of protecting the Nazca Lines.
“Our concern for the preservation of the lines is constant,” said Olaechea, who spoke about the El Nino and La Nina weather phenomena, which some scientists say are becoming more intense and frequent because of global warming.
The Nazca Lines, about 250 miles (400 km) south of the capital, Lima, are a top tourist destination and are best viewed from the air.
File photo by Reuters staff photographer Mariana Bazo