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Announcing the Airship Nazca project

Announcing the Airship Nazca project

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Published by airshipworld
Pressrelease announcing the Airship Nazca Project www.airshipnazca.com
Pressrelease announcing the Airship Nazca Project www.airshipnazca.com

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Published by: airshipworld on Jul 22, 2008
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06/23/2009

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The
Airship Nazca
Project
PRESS RELEASE:
Issued 25 July 2008 – for immediate release
Announcing the Airship Nazca project
Airship Nazca is an exiting new project using an airship as an aerial platform for aphotographic and remote-sensing survey of the endangered lines and geoglyphs in Peru, whichwere featured recently in the film 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'.The Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca and Pampas de Jumana are one of the greatest culturalwonders of our planet. Situated in south-western Peru, 500 square km of arid plains arecovered with lines straight as an arrow, fantastic geometric shapes and over seventy drawingsof animals, insects and even human figures. These geoglyphs are huge, for example thefamous Monkey with its spiralling tail is over 91.5 m across, while the Hummingbird - thesymbol for this project and which in Andean mythology represents a special messenger of thegods - has a wingspan of 61 m.Best seen from the air, their purpose and how they were made has intrigued archaeologistsand mathematicians ever since their re-discovery. But now they are under threat and may faceirredeemable damage as the result of tourism pressure and the impact of climate change.In 2010 Airship Nazca will undertake the most detailed survey of the site ever conducted. “Itwill raise the profile of Nazca and other sites at risk, emphasising the need to protect thedrawings while providing a blueprint of every square centimetre,” commented John Christopherof Airship Initiatives, the project coordinator.
Heritage under threat
Nazca is one of the most fragile archaeological sites in the world. The plains consist of apowdery gypsum-laden soil covered by a layer of rocks and stones; glacial debris that hasbeen fragmented into small pieces. These stones have a high iron content and throughoxidization they have darkened to give the site its distinctive reddish-brown tone. The linesand geoglyphs were created by clearing the stones and piling them to either side, thusexposing and contrasting the stones with the lighter-coloured soil underneath.
 
The reason why the lines and geoglyphs have survived for so long is because of the site'sstable climate which has almost no rain. However as reported by UNESCO there is growingconcern about the impact of climate change upon many world heritage sites and in Peru thereare regional factors with deforestation and erosion blamed for mudslides and flash-floods inmany areas. In 2000 unusually heavy rains triggered mudslides in the hills south of thedrawings, causing damage to one of the minor lines and prompting one archaeologist todeclare it "an important wake up call."The rise in international tourism has brought mixed blessings to many parts of the world.Of concern at Nazca is not the quantity of visitors, but the actions of a few. Because thesurface is so fragile any marks made by the tyres of a vehicle, or even a footprint, will last aslong as the lines themselves. Tourists are now kept off the main area and see the drawingsfrom the 15 m viewing tower or from light aircraft.
Location
The Nazca lines and geoglyphs cover the arid plains situatedbetween the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains in thesouth-west of Peru. Location coordinates:14 degrees 41' 38.3” S, Long 75 degrees 06' 49.6” W 
Why use an airship?
The airship is an ideal stable platform from which to conduct a low-level survey. It can beadapted to carry a range of equipment and instruments, flying low-and-slow or evenmaintaining station if required. The airship can also take best advantage of the light conditionsto photograph the lines and drawings which are shallow and do not show up well on satelliteimagery. It will also provide the opportunity to carry equipment and experiments devised bystudents and school children and some may even get the opportunity to fly in the airship aspart of their studies. Crucially, given the fragile nature of the Nazca site, the airship isenvironmentally non-intrusive and the entire survey will be conducted without leaving a singlefootprint on the surface. Recent advances in remote sensing technology, especially with Lidarwhich using pulses of light to produce accurate terrain modelling, should provide the mostcomprehensive survey of Nazca ever attempted.

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