The Paracas culture thrived in Peru from 800 – 100 BC. Most famous for their elongated skulls, new research has also found that the ancient culture used lines made from rocks to mark the way to ceremonial mounds.
Studies done by Charles Stanish from the University of California and an archaeological team have mapped these piles of rocks and geoglyphs over three seasons. They discovered these lines are actually markers on the way to ceremonial mounds.
They mapped 71 lines in a 40 square kilometre area in the Chincha Valley in southern Peru. Some of these lines measure 1.9 miles (3kms) in length!
Lines of this nature are synonymous with the Nazca culture, who created beautiful and mysterious lines that would form the shape of animals from an aerial perspective. But these new Paracas lines date to approximately 300 BC, several centuries earlier than the famous Nazca lines.
Stanish says: “If you want people to come to your trade fair, you have to point the way. These lines point straight to the ceremonial mounds on the coast where people could trade.”
At the excavation of the mounds, researchers found pottery that dated to around 2,300 years ago. The team managed to see lines that pointed to five of the ceremonial mounds. There is some speculation that some of the lines marked the winter solstice in June, which would have been a likely time to have a festival, but this is not a formal conclusion as of yet.
Ingmar Unkel from Germany’s Kiel University remarks: “The leaders of all ancient societies that I know have put their efforts on predicting the arrival of the rain. I would assume that the determination of the summer solstice [December in the Southern Hemisphere] would be of higher importance, announcing the arrival of new water.”