Nazca Lines and Culture

Stretching across the Nazca plains like a giant map or blueprint left by ancient astronauts, lie the famous Nazca Lines of Peru. Peru is associated with the Incan Civilization who many link with alien visitors who still interact with local people to this day.

The Nazca Lines are an engima. No one has proof who built them or why. Since their discovery, the Nazca Lines have inspired fantastic explanations from ancient gods, a landing strip for returning aliens, a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization — putting the creation of the lines between 200 BC and 600 AD, used for rituals probably related to astronomy, to confirm the ayllus or clans who made up the population and to determine through ritual their economic functions held up by reciprocity and redistribution, or a map of underground water supplies.

There are also huge geoglyphs in Egypt, Malta, United States (Mississippi and California), Chile, Bolivia and in other countries. But the Nazca geoglyphs, because of their numbers, characteristics, dimensions and cultural continuity, as they were made and remade through out the whole prehispanic period, form the most impressive, as well as enigmatic, archeological group.


The Nazca Lines are located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the pampa (a large flat area of southern Peru). The desolate plain of the Peruvian coast which comprises the Pampas of San Jose (Jumana), Socos, El Ingenio and others in the province of Nasca, is 400 Km. South of Lima, covers an area of approximately 450 km2, of sandy desert as well as the slopes of the contours of the Andes. They cover nearly 400 square miles of desert. Etched in the surface of the desert pampa sand about 300 hundred figures made of straight lines, geometric shapes most clearly visible from the air.

Nazca Plain

The Nazca plain is virtually unique for its ability to preserve the markings upon it, due to the combination of the climate (one of the driest on Earth, with only twenty minutes of rainfall per year) and the flat, stony ground which minimises the effect of the wind at ground level. With no dust or sand to cover the plain, and little rain or wind to erode it, lines drawn here tend to stay drawn. These factors, combined with the existence of a lighter-coloured subsoil beneath the desert crust, provide a vast writing pad that is ideally suited to the artist who wants to leave his mark for eternity.

The pebbles which cover the surface of the desert contain ferrous oxide. The exposure of centuries has given them a dark patina. When the gravel is removed, they contrast with the color underneath. In this way the lines were drawn as furrows of a lighter color, even though in some cases they became prints. In other cases, the stones defining the lines and drawings form small lateral humps of different sizes. Some drawings, especially the early ones, were made by removing the stones and gravel from their contours and in this way the figures stood out in high relief.

The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines and drawings leave no doubt that they required intensive long-term labor as is demonstrated by the stylistic continuity of the designs, which clearly correspond to the different stages of cultural changes.

Designs, Myths and Metaphors

There appear to be various designs consisting of figures of animals, flowers and plants, objects, and anthropomorphic figures of colossal proportions made with well-defined lines. An example of this is the drawing of a weird being with two enormous hands, one normal and the other with only four fingers.

Gray Alien hand vs. Human Hand?

Also represented are drawings of man-made objects such as yarn, looms and “tupus” (ornamental clasps). All these figures have well-defined entrances which could be used as paths or to allow people to line together along the conformations of the drawings. Continue reading Nazca Lines and Culture


Nefertiti by Winfred Brunton

Arguably, to those who are not very involved in the study of ancient Egypt, Queen Nefertiti is perhaps better known than her husband, the heretic king Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV). It is said that even in the ancient world, her beauty was famous, and her famous statue, found in a sculptor’s workshop, is not only one of the most recognizable icons of ancient Egypt, but also the topic of some modern controversy. She was more than a pretty face however, for she seems to have taken a hitherto unprecedented level of importance in the Amarna period of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. In artwork, her status is evident and indicates that she had almost as much influence as her husband. For example, she is depicted nearly twice as often in reliefs as her husband, at least during the first five years of his reign. Indeed, she is once even shown in the conventional pose of a pharaoh smiting his (or in this case, her) enemy.
Continue reading Nefertiti

The Sumerians

Witing and Religion

By 7000 BCE, in what is called the Fertile Crescent, in West Asia where hunter-gatherers had roamed, planting had grown into the major source of food. There true farming had begun, and farming required permanent settlement. By 4500 BCE people archaeologists would call Ubaidians were living in towns in West Asia, in Mesopotamia (Greek for “between two rivers”) near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers emptied into the Persian Gulf. The Ubaidians drained marshes. They grew wheat and barley and irrigated their crops by digging ditches to river waters. They kept farm animals. Some of them manufactured pottery. They did weaving, leather or metal work, and some were involved in trade with other societies. Continue reading The Sumerians

Sumeria, Ancient Sumeria (Sumer), A history of Ancient Sumer Including its Contributions

Ancient Sumeria

Primary Author: Robert A. Guisepi

Portions of this work Contributed By:
F. Roy Willis of the University of California

1980 and 2003

* The History of Ancient Sumeria including its cities, kings and religions

Now, I swear by the sun god Utu on this very day — and my younger brothers shall be witness of it in foreign lands where the sons of Sumer are not known, where people do not have the use of paved roads, where they have no access to the written word — that I, the firstborn son, am a fashioner of words, a composer of songs, a composer of words, and that they will recite my songs as heavenly writings, and that they will bow down before my words……

King Shulgi (c. 2100 BC) on the future of Sumerian literature.

Mesopotamia: The First Civilization

Authorities do not all agree about the definition of civilization. Most accept the view that “a civilization is a culture which has attained a degree of complexity usually characterized by urban life.” In other words, a civilization is a culture capable of sustaining a substantial number of specialists to cope with the economic, social, political, and religious needs of a populous society. Other characteristics usually present in a civilization include a system of writing to keep records, monumental architecture in place of simple buildings, and an art that is no longer merely decorative, like that on Neolithic pottery, but representative of people and their activities. All these characteristics of civilization first appeared in Mesopotamia.

The Geography Of Mesopotamia Continue reading Sumeria, Ancient Sumeria (Sumer), A history of Ancient Sumer Including its Contributions


More, perhaps, than any other culture in the ancient world or since, the Egyptians were struck by the rhythms of the universe. Everyone is aware of the rising and setting sun, night and day, the moon’s monthly cycle, the seasons, birth and death, etc., but only the Egyptians made a religion of these recurrences. Possibly it was the Nile River that made them realize how dependent they were on continuity, for every year the river flooded its banks turned the entire country into a shallow lake, and four months later the water receded enough to plant. Any time the flood levels were low there would be famine and any time there was too much water villages would be destroyed.

As leader of the country, it was the King’s job to ensure the willingness of the gods to work for the maintenance of order and the continuation of these natural cycles for life itself depended on them. The Pharaoh was thought to be partially divine in order to facilitate his work with both humans and gods.

Akhenaten tried to convince his people that there was only one God, Aten, but the experiment in monotheism did not survive the death of the Pharaoh who introduced it. Otherwise the Egyptians were a remarkably tolerant people when it came to matters of religion. There were no atheists or agnostics, of course, but there is no evidence of the sort of “my view of god is better than your view of god” that is all too common in interdenominational and inter-religion relations today.

In theory the Pharaoh was the chief priest and appointed a High Priest in each of the temples to act in his absence. In reality every temple functioned as an independent unit and more often than not the High Priest got his job the same way other men got theirs: by being the son of the predecessor. Each god or goddess had his or her own cult center that operated without ties to any other organization. Even when two or more temples worshipped the same god or goddess, they usually operated as unrelated entities.

There was no catechism or official body of doctrine that all worshippers were expected to believe, nor were there congregations in the manner of churches today. Worship was carried out by the priests, not by ordinary people, and was designed to ensure the gods and goddesses looked with favor on Egypt. It was not designed to facilitate a relationship between the individual and his deity.

A statue of the god or goddess was kept in a cupboard in the sanctuary. Every day a priest would clean the statue, change its clothes, and offer food and drink. The statue, a man-made representation, was a home for the god or goddess in the same way that a mummy was a home for a person’s Ka and Ba: no one thought of the statue as the real thing any more than would a modern Christian offering prayers to a Crucifix or a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Occasionally the statue was taken out of the temple and paraded around for the masses to see. This would be a time of feasting and celebration. While some provided a place for ordinary people to present their petitions or to offer personal prayers, temples existed to propitiate the gods. Those seeking a more personal relationship with the divine worshipped household gods at home.

It is a truism that the Egyptians were a very conservative people. They had no real objection to new ideas, but they tended to layer the new on top rather than discard the old. Where we see contradiction, they saw further clarification. There are several creation myths: modern people would say that while they could not believe any of them, logic would decree that if one were true the others had to be false. The Ancient Egyptian would see no reason not to accept them all despite the differences.


Isis was undoubtedly the most popular goddess in Ancient Egypt. She is normally pictured as a woman with the hieroglyphic sign for a throne on her head. Her enormous popularity, however, led to a merging with other goddesses, so, for example, she can often be found wearing Hathor’s cow horns and solar disk. The Greeks equated her with both the moon goddess Astarte and the corn goddess Demeter.

Most Egyptian temples had a corner reserved for the worship of Isis, but it was not until Dynasty XXX (The Late Period) that Isis got her own temple in the Eastern Delta. Other temples followed soon after at Philae (just south of Aswan) and at Denderah.

She was often thought of as the protector goddess and was one of the deities that guarded the four corners of the king’s sarcophagus. It was as a loving and faithful wife and mother, however, that Isis was best known and revered.

As king of Egypt, the god Osiris taught his people to harvest crops and to worship the gods. His brother Seth was jealous enough of Osiris popularity but he was absolutely furious that Isis and not he was made regent while the king traveled to spread his ideas around the world. Seth killed his brother by locking him in a box and tossing it into the river. The box drifted downstream, into the Mediterranean Sea and ended up wedged in a giant tamarisk tree in the palace of the King of Byblos.

Isis was distraught at the death of her husband and set out to find his body. Using a combination of help from the humans she met along the way and her magical powers as a goddess she learned the whereabouts of the box and her husband’s body.

Having disguised herself as an old lady, she was invited into the palace, the queen thinking that an Egyptian might know some spells that would cure her ailing son. Isis was revealed as a goddess. As a reward for saving the prince, she was given the tamarisk in which, unknown to anyone else, her husband’s body had been lodged. Isis retrieved the body of Osiris and returned the tree to the King of Byblos who made it the centerpiece of a new temple.

Shortly after Isis returned to Egypt Seth found the body, cut it up, and scattered the pieces. With the help of her sister, Nephthys, Isis managed to find all of the pieces. The gods Anubis and Thoth helped them put the pieces back together, embalm the body and wrap it in linen cloth, thus making the first mummy. Isis changed herself into a bird and used her wings to fan life back into him. He was then made King of the Underworld.

Isis had an infant son at this point and the next few years were spent raising him. Life was not easy for a single mother, even a goddess, and they were often hungry and constantly in fear that Seth would find them. Eventually Horus reached manhood and was ready to claim his throne. The Tribunal of the Gods agreed to meet to decide the issue.

Re preferred the throne would go to the more experienced Seth and ordered that Isis a women, be excluded from the discussion. The wily Isis bribed the ferryman to take her to the island where she transformed herself into a beautiful young woman. Seth was besotted. Not realizing who she was, he determined to possess her, but she refused his advances unless he agreed to help her.

Her son, she said, was caring for his father’s cattle, when a stranger came and stole them. She needed his help to get them back. The Egyptian word for cattle was also used as a synonym for the Egyptian people. As soon as he promised to get back her son’s “cattle”, Isis revealed herself as a goddess and demanded he keep his promise to return the Egyptian people to Horus. The gods all agreed that Seth had been beaten and Horus became King of Egypt.

We can see from this story that gods and goddesses have considerable power but that were limits to what they could do. They had the same emotions and the same needs as humans. Some scholars have suggested that the conflict between Seth and Horus may have reflected an actual incident in early history where it was decided that the succession would pass to a king’s son and not to his brother.

Isis was assimilated with a number of goddesses and her worship spread to the farthest corners of the Roman Empire. It has been suggested that if Emperor Constantine had not given his support to Christianity early in the Fourth Century A.D. that the cult of Isis might still be a major religion in the world of today.


Next to Isis, Hathor was the most popular goddess in Ancient Egypt. Her name, in Egyptian, meant “The Mansion of Horus”, so there is no doubt that she was considered one of the senior sky goddesses and sometimes called “Eye of the Sun God, Re”. She can be pictured in a variety of ways:

1. as a gigantic cow standing astride the four corners of the earth with the stars and planets attached to her hide and udder. The sun is fixed between the horns on her head. (The sky goddess Nut is also pictured this way, minus, of course, the udder and horns.)

2. a woman with a round, somewhat flattened face with a wig through which one can see the ears of a cow.

3. a very beautiful, young woman wearing an image of the sun caught in the grip of the horns of a cow.

When the aging Re became concerned that some humans were plotting against him he sent Hathor to catch and punish the guilty. Hathor took so much joy from her task and the taste of blood that he feared she would go on to kill all of humanity. The Sun God ordered that red ochre be mixed with enough beer to flood the land. Hathor thought it was blood and greedily drank it all. Needless to say she got so drunk that she forgot about her plan to kill all mankind.

Despite this one image of a bloodthirsty Hathor, she was normally thought of as a fun loving goddess concerned with the well being of humanity. She took a special interest in unmarried girls, for whom she would often find husbands, and as a fertility goddess she was called upon to help women in childbirth. When the Greeks came to match their deities with those of Egypt Hathor was thought to be the equivalent of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

The Seven Hathors, a group of goddesses resembling Hathor, were able to foretell the fate of a newborn in the same way as the Fates of Greece.

Many temples were built in her honor both in Egypt and outside. Most of Egypt’s large towns had at least a shrine dedicated to her and often showed the local goddess as a manifestation of Hathor. In honor of his wife Nefertari, Ramesses II built a temple for Hathor at Abu Simbel in Nubia. One of the best known and most important Hathor temples was the one at Denderah, some 60 km north of Luxor. We have already noted that temple worship was usually carried out by the priests rather than the people, but commoners had a chance to participate during the great festivals when the divine statue was taken on a trip outside the temple. At Denderah the special occasion was the annual celebration of the Sacred Marriage of Hathor and Horus. Two weeks before May’s new moon, Hathor’s statue sailed 70 km up-river to Edfu. The procession stopped at several places along the way to allow the goddess to visit local deities. She was met at Edfu by the statue of Horus and together the two deities were carried to various holy sites for the performance of the appropriate rituals. For the next two weeks temple staff supplied free food and drink to all pilgrims. It was, of course, the biggest party of the year.


The Egyptian concept of ma’at refers to the natural order of the universe, ‘the way things ought to be’. It is sometimes called ‘justice’ but there is no word in the English language that really encompasses what the Egyptians meant and more often than not the word is simply left untranslated. Ma’at included the proper relationship between one human and another, between ruler and ruled, and between gods and people. Even the universe was subject to Ma’at as it was the force that kept the seasons in succession.

Ma’at did not mean that everyone should be equal. Some will have more money, social status, and authority than others, but responsibility goes with privilege. The rich should provide aid to the poor and those with power should use it to ensure there is justice for the weak.

On the day of judgment the heart was weighed against a feather to determine if the deceased had lived a life in accordance with Ma’at. There was no attempt to measure the amount of goodness or sin; a heart that weighed too much was as unacceptable as a heart that weighed too little. If the heart did not match the feather exactly, it was thrown to the Devourer, a creature with the head of a crocodile, the forequarters of a lion and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus: without a heart to serve as home, no life was possible for the Ka or the Ba.

The concept of Ma’at was so important that it was personified as a goddess. Portrayed as a woman wearing a feather in her headband, she was thought to be the daughter of the sun god, Re. She was often shown as a gift being presented by the king to the other gods.

Worship services in the temples were intended to promote a good relationship between the state and the gods. Personal piety was an individual and family matter, not a corporate one. Once a year most statues of a god or goddess were taken out of the temple and paraded around for the general public to see. This would be an excuse for a party as well as an opportunity for the masses to express their devotion to the local deity.

Level of ritual purity determined how far into a temple one could go, much like the levels of security clearance in a modern spy novel, but anyone could enter the outer courtyard. Here there was often a place where the faithful could present their petitions within earshot of the deity. Failing that, some public spirited individual may have constructed a statue where people could leave an offering with the expectation that someone would approach the divine on their behalf.

Those who could afford it set up a votive stela in the courtyard bearing a prayer and a picture of himself or herself making an offering to the god. A cheaper alternative was to use a shard of pottery. Either approach may perhaps have operated in much the same way as a candle left burning by the faithful in some Christian churches today. This stela, dedicated to the god Ptah, pictures a number of ears, symbolizing the donor’s hope that people can stand before it and have their prayers heard by Ptah.

Much of the personal religious activity seems to have taken place at home. Unfortunately much of the evidence for this has disappeared along with their mud brick houses, but it appears that home had altars or niches that held votive stelae. Worship involved food offerings, libations and flowers, and stressed problems associated with conception and birth.

This stela is from the Ptolemaic or Roman era of Egypt and was likely put in the courtyard of a private home to keep evil away. Women looked to the god Bes to promote pregnancy and to keep them safe during childbirth. He is pictured in the stela brandishing a sword and holding a serpent (the symbol of evil)

The kingdom of Mitanni – ancient torkey

The kingdom of Mitanni

The kingdom of Mitanni was a feudal state led by a warrior nobility of Aryan or Hurrian origin. Frequently horses were bred on their large landed estates. Documents and contract agreements in Syria often mention a chariot-warrior caste that also constituted the social upper class in the cities.

Below: The Hittites Kingdom at it’s height

The aristocratic families usually received their landed property as an inalienable fief. Consequently, no documents on the selling of landed property are to be found in the great archives of Akkadian documents and letters discovered in Nuzi, near Kirkuk. The prohibition against selling landed property was often dodged, however, with a stratagem: the previous owner “adopted” a willing buyer against an appropriate sum of money. The wealthy lord Tehiptilla was “adopted” almost 200 times, acquiring tremendous holdings of landed property in this way without interference by the local governmental authorities. He had gained his wealth through trade and commerce and through a productive two-field system of agriculture (in which each field was cultivated only once in two years). For a long time, Prince Shilwa-Teshub was in charge of the royal governmental administration in the district capital. Sheep breeding was the basis for a woolen industry, and textiles collected by the palace were exported on a large scale. Society was highly structured in classes, ranks, and professions. The judiciary, patterned after the Babylonian model, was well organized; the documents place heavy emphasis on correct procedure.

Native sources on the religion of the Hurrians of the Mitanni kingdom are limited; about their mythology, however, much is known from related Hittite and Ugaritic myths. Like the other peoples of the ancient Middle East, the Hurrians worshiped gods of various origins. The king of the gods was the weather god Teshub. According to the myths, he violently deposed his father Kumarbi; in this respect he resembled the Greek god Zeus, who deposed his father Kronos. The war chariot of Teshub was drawn by the bull gods Seris (“Day”) and Hurris (“Night”). Major sanctuaries of Teshub were located at Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) and at Halab (modern Aleppo) in Syria. In the east his consort was the goddess of love and war Shaushka, and in the west the goddess Hebat (Hepat); both were similar to the Ishtar-Astarte of the Semites.

The sun god Shimegi and the moon god Kushuh, whose consort was Nikkal, the Ningal of the Sumerians, were of lesser rank. More important was the position of the Babylonian god of war and the underworld, Nergal. In northern Syria the god of war Astapi and the goddess of oaths Ishara are attested as early as the 3rd millennium BC.

Below: The Hittites were some of the first warriors to use the chariot.

In addition, a considerable importance was attributed to impersonal numina such as heaven and earth as well as to deities of mountains and rivers. In the myths the terrible aspect of the gods often prevails over indications of a benevolent attitude. The cults of sacrifices and other rites are similar to those known from the neighbouring countries; many Hurrian rituals were found in Hittite Anatolia. There is abundant evidence for magic and oracles.

Temple monuments of modest dimensions have been unearthed; in all probability, specific local traditions were a factor in their design. The dead were probably buried outside the settlement. Small artifacts, particularly seals, show a peculiar continuation of Babylonian and Assyrian traditions in their preference for the naturalistic representation of figures. There were painted ceramics with finely drawn decorations (white on a dark background). The strong position of the royal house was evident in the large palaces, existing even in district capitals. The palaces were decorated with frescoes. Because only a few Mitanni settlements have been unearthed in Mesopotamia, knowledge of Mitanni arts and culture is as yet insufficient.