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Nasca Lines: Buried Secrets on NatGeo Channel

by Jessie Kwak | 20 February 2010 6 Comments

I just got a heads up about a program coming this Sunday February 21st (tomorrow) on the National Geographic Channel at 10PM Eastern. Unfortunately, Rob and I will be on our way to the Lima airport, en route to LAX, but check it out and let me know how it is. Nasca Lines: Buried Secrets is the catchy title (you can watch the trailer below).

Papa Kwak flies over the Nazca lines

You've seen photos of the Nazca lines, but you haven't seen a photo of my dad in his neon orange Nazca lines shirt.

The premise appears to hinge on a discovery made by Archaeologist Christina Conlee in 2007 of a body that shows “gruesome evidence of decapitation.” (I love that description from Edge West’s website. What evidence of decapitation was there? His head was gone. Oh.).

The Expanded Academic ASAP database didn’t have the full text of her study: Decapitation and rebirth: A headless burial from Nasca, Peru (in Current Anthropology 48.3 June 2007), but you can read about the finding in Science Daily. The body Conlee discovered had a ceremonial jar in place of his head, one that she speculates was used in fertility rituals. According to her research, ritual battles used to take place before planting, and scalp cuts on found severed heads indicate that the blood may have been let in order to fertilize the earth. That combined with this ceremonially buried body’s headjar leads her to believe that there is a relationship between decapitation and rebirth in the beliefs of the ancient Nasca people

We would have entirely skipped the Nazca lines had Papa Kwak not been keen to see them back in December. (I wrote about Nazca on KnK Explore). While the town leaves something to be desired, the hyped-up mystery surrounding the lines has always piqued my interest, and I’d heartily classify the overflight as one over-hyped tourist activity that is worth the money.

I’m always skeptical about claims like “For the first time the secrets of these people will finally be unearthed,” but it looks like it could be an interesting show, and it’s coming at a good time for Peru’s bruised tourism industry. Somebody check it out and tell me what you think!

You can read more about it on Edge West’s website and at National Geographic.

Written by Jessie Kwak

I am a farm girl who moved to the big city, and then just kept right on moving. I love camping, hoppy beer, and good conversations. See all posts by

6 Comments »

  • Phil Day said:

    Loved your line about the evidence of gruesome decapitation – ‘his head was gone. Oh.’ Very droll. Thanks. Phil

  • Jessie Kwak (author) said:

    Thanks Phil, I always enjoy coming across golden phrases like that.

  • Todd said:

    What a “nothing” show. Dragged out for an hour what could have been said in two or three sentences and is obviously based upon a speculative and questionable hypothesis at best. I don’t think the narrator could have talked any slower. What a waste of an hour of my life.

  • Jessie Kwak (author) said:

    It sucks to hear that–I was hoping for something a bit more substantial, but I’m always a bit skeptical about sensationally advertised shows with “never-before discovered whatever.” (That alliteration was unintentional, but I’m going to leave it). I haven’t had a chance to see it….

  • Phil Day said:

    I think Todd was watching something else or perhaps he was waiting to find out that the Nasca Lines really were made by Aliens – sorry to disappoint you Todd, but sometime reality is quite simple. The geoglyphs were made as an homage to the gods to help bring water and fertility. Although that is a simple conclusion (albeit true) this complex show explains the relationship with the unknown Nasca people, the landscape, their gods and their fears. The scientific and anthropological findings of the show are unprecedented, for example learning that the entire region was once covered in grasslands and that the desert encroached on the Nasca over centuries and eventually forced them to leave has NEVER been discussed on TV before. The idea connecting the ‘trophy heads’ and fertility has never been discussed on TV before and the idea of voluntary sacrifice is a taboo subject yet we spend the film showing that this was a distinct possibility.

    Hope Jessie that you get a chance to see it for your self when it repeats Tuesday May 4th at 8p et.

  • Todd said:

    Phil, believe me, I understand that. I was hardly wanting to see yet another thing attributed to aliens. I called it a “nothing” show because the whole hypothesis could have been presented to us in about 10 minutes. But, the show somehow managed to stretch it out to a whole hour. And, once presented, the hypothesis is about as tenuous as an “alien” theory would be too.