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The Ancient Historical Mysteries Of Peru

By James Donahue

Of all the places offering strange and intriguing mysteries of the ancient past, Peru appears to top the list. From Lake Titicoca, the highest freshwater lake in the world to the odd Nazca Lines forming flat "airstrips" across flattened mountain tops and mystery perfectly cut tunnels to nowhere in solid rock, the puzzles facing archaeologists here are unlike anything found anywhere else in the world.

Among the best known riddles have been the Nazca Lines, a number of giant images created by brushing away the top top layer of iron oxide coated stones covering the barren desert to reveal the light sandy soil below. The giant geoglyphs, covering an area about 37 miles long and a mile wide, remain etched on the desert surface in southern Peru. There are over 300 images here, ranging from straight lines to flowers, plants, hummingbirds, monkeys, lizards, spiders and human figures.

Created possibly 2000 years ago, or even earlier, the Nazca Lines have remained well preserved by the dry, windless climate. What has puzzled researchers has been the fact that the only way to fully see and appreciate the drawings is to look down at them from high in the air, something that historians believe was not possible at the time they were created. And this has raised speculation that the lines were created for alien ships, or that an ancient civilization once existed in this part of the world that had the technology to build aircraft.

Not far away from the site of the Nazca Lines, and located in the Palpa Mountains, is yet another field of lines, geometric designs and images much like the Nazca Lines but for a few striking differences. Primarily they are not on flat ground, but run up the sides of mountains and over rugged terrain. Some of the mountain tops appear to have been sliced off to accomodate this strange art. Among the geometric works is a "star" geoglyph that appears to have been constructed with great precision, but can only be appreciated from the air because of the rough terrain. One writer said it appeared to have been created by a giant using a spray gun.

Going east from these strange markings, high up in the Andes Mountains, is found Lake Titicaca, the highest comercially-navigable fresh water lake in the world. This lake is over 12,500 feet above sea level and covers 3,200 square miles. It is 350 feet deep.

Local mythology has long told of a lost city known as Wanaku that lies at the bottom of Lake Titicaca. It was told that in the ancient past, during the catastrophic time when the world was flooded, the ground here at the border of Peru ad Bolivia rise up, creating the lake and leaving Wanaku in sunken ruins. This remained just a story until 2000 when an Italian team of archaeologists and divers for Akakor Geographical Exploring discovered a massive temple 660 feet long and 130 feet wide, plus a 2300 foot-long retaining wall, a terrace, ceramic artefacts and even traces of a paved road at the bottom of Titicaca.

Because of the great depth of the lake, and because of local superstition, no further exploratory dives have been made in this area, thus little more is known.

Just to the west of Lake Titicaca, some 8,000 feet higher on an Andes peak, lie the amazing ruins of a place called Machu Picchu, surrounded by the City of Juliaca. Here yet another mysterious marvel boggles the minds of archeologists who come to study these ruins. They consist of a complex of houses, palaces, temples, observatories and other buildings believed left there by the Inca people. Like so much of the other ancient ruins of South America, however, the remains are massive blocks of granite, each piece finely cut to fit together with amazing perfection. Some of the blocks have up to thirty sides, joined togehter like a massive jigsaw puzzle. The blocks fit so perfectly that a thin knife blade cannot be passed between the stones.

Just north of the Peruvian capital Lima can be found the ruins of El Paraiso, one of the largest cities of antiquity in this region of the world. Located in the Chillon Valley on the central coast of Peru, the site spreads over 125 acres and is estimated to have once been the home of an estimated 3,000 people during the Late Preceramic period, or from 1,800 to 3,500 years BC.

Archaeologists have been working at this site for years, and to date have uncovered a central pyramid. Nearby ruins, still to be revealed, look like sandy hills. Luis Caceres, head of archeology at the Ministry of Culture said little is known about these other sites because they have yet to be uncovered.

A ceremonial fireplace was recently discovered in a wing of the pyramid. Access to this room was discovered when archeologists were removing sand and stones and came upon a narrow entrance, about 19 inches wide, that lead to a chanber measuring 26 by 20 feet where shellfish, grains, flowers and fruit were once burned as offerings.

Like many of the religious structures found on ancient South American sites, this temple was found to have four levels, each one built on the ruins of an older one.

Among the more intriguing stories about this part of South America has been the reports of a strange network of tunnels allegedly cut through the mountains. Author Erich von Daniken told of them in his book The Gold of the Gods, as did famed theosophist, writer and traveler Madame Helena Blavatsky in some of her writings.

Blavatsky wrote that the tunnels begin at Cuzco and continue underground for about 380 miles to Lima, then turn south into Bolivia. She estimated that the tunnel, a perfectly cut walkway through solid rock, continued for at least 1,000 miles. She said exploration of these tunnels was difficult because of the mephitic air which had not been entered for centuries. She did not say that she had seen these tunnels or attempted to explore them.

Von Daniken wrote that he had been shown an entrance to the tunnel and attempted to explore it with the help of a local native who knew of a way in. He said he had to use a flashlight to find his way. His guide, Juan Moricz, claimed to have explored miles of the subterranean labyrinth under Morona-Santiago, Ecuador. Von Daniken said he and Moricz came upon great rooms filled with metallic plaques with engraved images on them.

Warren Smith, in a report titled "Subterranean Tunnels of South America," told of a group of South American spelunkers who opened and explored the caverns in 1971. He said this group followed a tunnel that lead toward the seacoast for sixty miles and then continued under the ocean where it was blocked about 80 feet below sea level because it was flooded.

Jose Luis Delgado Mamani, who works as a guide for tourists through the Hayu Marca mountain region of Southern Peru, stumbled on a huge mysterious door-like structure in 1996 that attracted several archeologists to the site. He said the carved entrance in the rock face was seven meters high and seven meters wide. There was a smaller alcove in the center at the base. It was told by the local nativges that this was a holy place known as the City of the Gods. No ruins of a city were ever found at the site, although many of the rock formations look like buildings.

Then there is the Cabrera Museum, founded by the late Dr. Javier Cabrera Darquea in Aca, Peru, where can be found a collection of over 15,000 stones of various sizes, all of them displaying intricate engravings of scenes of ancient people and animals. The images show men hunting dinosaurs, people performing medical practices and other activities suggesting an advanced civilization that once existed in the area in the distant past. Some say the images are a hoax. Cabrera claimed the "Ica Stones" were collected and brought to him by local farmers during his years of practice as a medical doctor.