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.