Learning to See and Discover
By teZa Lord, author of the new audiobook, Zen Love
An amazing article caught my eye this morning as I glanced through the For KIDs section of the New York Times, a weekly special that I peruse in hopes of finding something interesting I can share with my 9-year-old grandson. I nearly fell off the chair I was sitting in as I read: “2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru.”
It so happens that the thousands-of-years-old gigantic desert images, located a hundred-plus miles south of Lima, Peru, have fascinated me since I first heard of them. Was it back in my childhood, in an edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica? Or was it in my early adulthood, when I devoured adventure stories about exotic places? Whenever it was, hearing of these hundreds-of-feet-long formations discovered in the Peruvian desert captivated my imagination from the get-go.
Way back when I first discovered them, these Nazca lines, as they were called, that mimicked animals, humans, and geometric shapes, diverse and unexplained, were classified as “a mystery.” Because the people said to have made them, the ancient Nazca, hadn’t left any written record of how they used them, how they were made, or even if they’d been made by this indigenous culture, scholars attributed the monstrously impressive figures to “an unknown mysterious source.” I, along with many others who sought answers about “mysteries,” wanted more than myths for an answer.
Wherever I turned, as a wondering kid, these football-field length caricatures spoke only of riddles needing answering. How had they appeared? From aliens, was the myth I heard. Another rumor I heard was that the long unexplained lines forming the Nazca patterns, most of which are only seeable from airplanes, had to have been made for a purpose. There were no centers of civilization nearby. What could the purpose be? Another rumor claimed they were airstrips for the aliens’ ships to land on. That sounded plausible to me, because nobody on foot could possibly have made them, let alone see them in their entirety.
Science of Discoveries Dispels Myth
It wasn’t until people studied the many spread-out configurations from airplanes that their peculiar amorphous shapes could even be determined. A butterfly. Bird. Spider. A horned-person seemingly dancing. Nobody knew for certain what these incongruous figures could be.
All an inquisitive kid has to do today, however, to “discover” the answers to secrets that used to stump us back in the Dark Ages of the fifties and sixties is open up the current edition of a newspaper or magazine, or more likely, click on the app that appears on their iPad, to read the latest discovery and scientific thinking that’s been peer-reviewed about any subject.
Isn’t it amazing? Once, we didn’t know where these lines, these otherworldly figures came from. But now, science is sure they were scratched out of the desert by we mere humans. The technique has been ascertained, even though we haven’t determined who the artists themselves were—yet. Perhaps they’ll turn out to be people pre-dating the Nazca of 300-500 CE.
How When Who Where …
Into the many-inches thick crust of the Peruvian desert layer, the lines were scratched, or dug out. I’ve walked on America’s deserts, and in the future, I will visit Peru’s desert, but view them only from viewing paths and platforms. Because humans must never walk on the thick crust of an old desert such as Peru’s. The sandy desert’s top layer is an ecosystem that is extremely fragile. All deserts have this bio-crust, whether thinly or thickly layered. It starts off as small, barely discernible non-flowering plants, small fungi and molds, that grow in darkened-against-the-sand clusters. Cumulatively, they are called the cryptobiotic layer, or “desert glue,” which over time (in the case of the Nazca lines, it has been dated as many millennia) protects the land from erosion. The hardened cryptobiotic crust holds the shifting sands in place and prevents them from blowing away.
In Peru, this desert glue grew to be very dark. The ancient people dug deeply, whether for the purpose of a ritual or just having fun, to create these enormous sand-carvings took much effort. The most recently discovered 120-foot Cat was found in October of 2020 when workers noticed “a new layer of the desert crust” growing over a barely discernible shape as they prepared to make an observation platform on a hillside, adjacent to already known Nazca line-figures.
Imagine the surprise of the scientists who came rushing to investigate after the workers reported they saw something odd.
Odd? Like a thousands-of-years-unknown phenomenal construction odd!
At this time in our human civilization, there are still many mysteries unfolding that reveal themselves, one by one. The Lost City of the Monkey God was recently found in the thick jungles of Honduras by the use of lidar, a laser-like method of detection from the air. Without this modern technology, these ancient city ruins, covered by impenetrable jungle, would never have been detected.
The remarkable find of the Nazca cat, along with the ruins of a large ancient Central American city that was found in 2012, makes us wonder how many other so-called “secrets” remain to be found as we humans learn to “see” more clearly.
Atlantis, where are you?
I’m pleased to share that the audiobook version of Zen Love has just been released. Click here for details.
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