Peru’s Nasca lines, which were carved over 1,000 years ago and are visited by 80,000 tourists a year, are being turned into a trash dump.

Until she died six years ago, German mathematician Maria Reich spend 50 years guarding the site. She believed it was a giant astronomical calendar, drawn in the desert. Researchers can’t understand how ancient people from a mysterious culture were able to draw huge figures, such as a monkey and a hummingbird, which can only be recognized from the air, despite the fact that they had no way of viewing them from above.

Hannah Hennessy writes in that dumping trash in the area isn’t the only problem. Until recently, cars drove right across the lines in order to avoid paying a toll on the Pan-American highway. One of the problems is the fact that the lines are not impressive unless seen from an airplane or balloon, and people on the ground may not even realize they’re there.

But others violate the site intentionally. Locals know they aren?t supposed to dump trash there, so they wait until after dark to do it. Even Nasca mayor Daniel Mantilla does it, despite the fact that the Nasca lines bring tourist money into his community. He claims he was forced to dump litter there because the national government failed to approve another site and says, “If we don’t unite, the situation is going to go from bad to worse and that’s what the culture institute and the tourism ministry need to understand. They need to unite around the local government, but they prefer to turn against us.”

We still find magical images in the ground today?in the form of crop circles. See these dazzling images every day of the year in our crop circle calendar?now on sale. When these are gone, you’ll have to wait until 2005.

NOTE: This news story, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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