Washington, May 23 : Two British archaeologists are trying to solve the mystery of the Nazca Lines in Peru by locating and measuring the lines with high-precision GPS, photographing the distribution of 1,500-year old pottery, and working out the chronological sequence of overlying lines and designs.
The archaeologists, who are doing the research, are Dr Nick Saunders from Bristol University and Professor Clive Ruggles from the University of Leicester.
Funded by the Anglo-Peruvian Cultural Association in Lima, their research hopes to unlock the purpose of the dazzling but confusing array of desert drawings.
Though bizarre explanations, such as alien visitations, ancient landing strips, and astronomical calendars have been offered earlier, this research is focusing on serious archaeological and anthropological ideas.
Professor Ruggles and Dr Saunders agree with other experts that some lines were pathways across the desert, others had a more religious significance, while some appear associated with desert scars caused by flash-floods, and are probably linked to the veneration of water.
According to Dr Saunders, "Identifying which lines came first, whether they were spiritual or functional, and exactly how they were used during a thousand years of prehistory is a great challenge."
"The treasure is not gold but insight, and the mystery is cultural not extraterrestrial," he added.