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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Could this California man solve the mystery of the Nazca Lines?

Within minutes of flying over the Nazca Lines, a series of pre-Columbian landforms carved into the desert sands in southern Peru, Mike Tucker created mysterious shapes.

His theory: crops that were grown by ancient farmers from runoff in the surrounding hills and distributed through carved lines acted like plants in the gently sloping land.

Scientists say that the lines that make up simple straight lines or circles to complex animal figures are between 1,500 and 2,500 years old. They are best viewed from the wind or nearby hills and cover an area of ​​about four miles.

In 1994, UNESCO designated the Nazca Lines as a World Heritage Site.

But scientists debate how the lines formed and what their purpose was. Some say they have a religious significance, others argue they have an astrological connection and some point to communication with aliens.

Tucker, an environmental scientist who focuses on hydrobiology and holds master’s degrees in biology and geological engineering, is also an Army reservist and now serves as chief game warden at Camp Pendleton.

Put that all together and when he and his family visited the Nazca Lines a year ago, Tucker said he saw the remains in a way that other people can’t see.

“When they sank the plane, it reminded me of circular farm fields in Southern California,” he said. “Then I immediately added the points (that the Nazca crop fields) were probably irrigated by runoff from the hill and that you could probably irrigate the crops with a single water.”

While posted to eastern Afghanistan in 2010-11, Tucker said he observed that farmers were extremely successful in growing bountiful crops with just one irrigation a year. They found it remarkable then, he said, because they were so familiar with agriculture in California that they needed regular irrigation.

In Afghanistan, farmers saturated their compost soils, he said. Mountain snowmelt washed away in a lake with an ancient dam reformed in the Soviet Union. Irrigation workers released water from the dam into canals that stretched the desert plain to the family’s farms.

“The Afghans created a system to convert desert sands into productive farms by providing an early release of water for their crops,” he said. “This experience made me think that the Nazca Lines had an agricultural purpose.”

At Camp Pendleton, Tucker was trying to find a way to repair artificial water systems for wildlife—guzzlers. He volunteered for a water catchment project in the Mojave Desert. Those guzzlers were concrete spaces that slid down to an underground pool. When it rains, the water collects and after 20 minutes, the guzzlers turn the rain into hundreds of gallons of stored water where thirsty animals can drink.

“Similarly, the hard-packed Nazca plain would serve as a catchment,” he said, “collecting and diverting water into a fast-flowing, yet transitory, runoff. A Nazca line filled with water-absorbing organic soil Can catch runoff like a sponge.”

Tucker said he continues to ponder his idea as the small plane dips to the right and left, giving the family a view of the various shapes.

He saw a monkey, a parrot, a flower, a hummingbird, a giant figure called an astronaut and a series of spirals and straight lines. Each angle gave him more time to mentally test his idea, he said.

“I have something exciting to tell you,” he said as his wife and two children landed. “I think I know why they created the Nazca Lines.”

Aware of the standard principles, he checked Google to see any references to farming. Johann Reinhardt, a former National Geographic explorer-in-residence, concluded in the 1970s that “the lines did not point to anything on the geographic or celestial horizon, but rather to places where water was found.” There were rituals to be done.”

“Food would be a central resource for the Nazca people and it is understandable that they would spend so much time and energy preparing the food,” Tucker said.

After coming up with his theory, Tucker was extremely excited. “I was wondering why? It’s unbelievable, like I’ve won the lottery. I felt I had a responsibility to do something about it.”

So, once back home in San Marcos, Tucker sets out to see if his theory works.

“If I was wrong, I wanted to learn why I was wrong,” he said. “If I was right, I need proof that I was right.”

It took him five months and several experiments to prove his hypothesis. He ordered quinoa seeds online—the hearty plant has a long history in Peruvian agriculture—and went on to irrigate and plant his “crop.”

On May 31, he placed a large bucket in his yard, saturated the soil and sprinkled seeds on top.

“I never watered the quinoa after planting. On July 26, the quinoa was ready to harvest,” he said. “There was no measurable rainfall in the bucket. Once the quinoa plant started growing, it was a There was an important recognition.”

Still, Tucker’s wife, a schoolteacher, was skeptical. So, he built soil models to show how his theory worked.

He concluded that many of the Nazca lines are located at the base of a hill and that rain falling on the hill during a small storm would produce significant runoff. They interpreted the different shapes by testing that a crop near a lot of runoff would require more zigzag and squiggly lines to reach saturation, while an area with a more gentle slope with low runoff volume could function with simple lines.

“A farmer will maximize yields based on the level of runoff,” he said. “A large runoff will saturate several acres, leading to a bigger crop. A trapezoid or a line can still concentrate a small amount of runoff to create at least some saturated soil and some crop. ,

He said the different figures chosen could be for cultural, artistic or religious reasons.

Now, Tucker hopes that experts studying these ancient lines may be interested in his theory.

They have contacted National Geographic and are waiting to hear back. It’s been almost four months, Tucker said.

To get more information from others studying the Nazca Lines, Tucker created a YouTube video explaining his theory. Within a few days, he got 15,000 views.

“I want to inspire a professional archaeologist to examine the Nazca Lines with an agricultural perspective,” he said. “Look at the silt, see if there’s any evidence of clay and quinoa. Get high quality typing data to see how effective they’ll be at collecting runoff. I’d like to do this for more validation.”

Reinhardt said he took a look at Tucker’s video.

“I like his whole attitude,” Reinhardt said. “I like that he looks at practical reasons. And I like that he’s open and seeking more people’s opinions. That’s what science is about.”

But, Reinhardt, who said he is not an expert in slope drainage, believes Tucker needs to do more research.

“As far as I know, not every study done so far has found any evidence of agricultural work,” he said. “If it were widespread there must be some grain.”

Tucker also pursued his idea by Scott Mattingly, an archaeologist who works for the Department of Defense. Mattingly has also worked in the private sector and has a background studying the hunter-gatherer cultures of Southern California.

“I have no experience with Peruvian archaeology, or agricultural societies in general, so I can’t speak to the technical details of Mike’s hypothesis,” he said. “However, I appreciate Mike’s enthusiasm for archaeology, and I think it is important for the discipline to examine how people behaved in the past, especially when non-destructive techniques are employed, as Mike was did.

“I applaud his effort to offer an interpretation of the Nazca Lines,” Mattingly said, “especially one that does not include extra-terrestrials.”

World Nation News Desk
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