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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 10

Nazca's "Lady Of The Lines" Dead at 95

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 04:28:59 +0200
Fwd Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 07:11:00 -0400
Subject: Nazca's "Lady Of The Lines" Dead at 95

Associated Press via CNN. URL:


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'Guardian Angel' of Peru's Nazca Lines dead at 95

June 8, 1998

Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT)

LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Maria Reiche, a German mathematician who spent more
than half a century studying and protecting Peru's enigmatic Nazca
Lines, died Monday of cancer. She was 95.

Reiche died at a military hospital in Lima. She had been diagnosed with
ovarian cancer on May 8.

Also known as "the Lady of the Lines," Reiche was captivated by the
vastness and solitude of the Nazca plains, which cover a 35-mile
(60-km) stretch of desert and are Peru's major tourist attraction after
Machu Picchu.

"When I do die, I want to be buried in this fascinating place, which I
love so much," she said.

Threats to the lines have included vandalism, a government project to
"reconstruct" the drawings, acid rain from mining operations in nearby
mountains and even a plan to flood the plains for agriculture.

Reiche fought them all alone.

'A very fragile manuscript'

"This precious thing should be treated like a very fragile manuscript
that is guarded in a special room in a library," she once said.

Her death left many Peruvians wondering about the fate of the lines,
which she protected by paying guards with money she earned from the
sale of her book about the drawings.

"Maria Reiche's death saddens all Peruvians, particularly
archaeologists, because, with her, we had the certainty that this
ancient legacy of Peru would be preserved " said Federico
Kauffmann-Doig, one of Peru's leading archaeologists. "And now that she
is dead, all this work is in danger."

After years of study, Reiche concluded that the designs represented a
giant calendar linked to the movements of the sun, moon and
constellations, which told ancient desert dwellers when to plant and
irrigate crops.

The shallow lines were made more than a thousand years ago -- hundreds
of years before the Inca empire -- by clearing the stony surface of the
plains and exposing the whitish soil underneath.

Thousands of lines, some more than five miles (9 km) long, cross the
plains straight as arrows and climb distant hills. Others zigzag or
spiral over the desert surface.

Scattered among the lines are dozens of figures, including a
hummingbird, monkey, heron, whale, cat with a fish's tail, spider and
flower, ranging from four yards (meters) to 900 feet (300 meters) in

'I like solitude'

In 1946, armed with a broom and a rake, Reiche began cleaning the lines
of small rocks and other debris, revealing to the world their
dimensions. She spent weeks at a time on the desert, living off a
meager diet of fruit and nuts and slept under the stars.

"I like solitude," she said once. "As a little girl I used to close
myself up in the dark basement of my house. God kept me company."

Residents in Nazca, the small town on the edge of the lines, 250 miles
(400 kms) south of Lima, initially thought she was "crazy," she liked
to recall with a chuckle.

In time, they admired her for putting their town on the world tourist
map and bringing in badly needed dollars.

Her birthday became an annual event celebrated with street dances and
ceremonies. In 1993, the government honored her with the Order of the
Sun, its highest award.

"The people of Nazca are in mourning. We are all with her," Nazca Mayor
Luz Torres said.

Copyright 1998 =BF The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Related sites:

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*Ancient Astronauts: The Nazca Lines
*A visitor's photographs of the Nazca lines
*Ethno Magazine: The Nazca Lines
*UNESCO: The World Heritage list

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endorsed by CNN Interactive.

=A9 1998 Cable News Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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