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Alien landing strips or human expression?

Jun. 4, 2009, 3:22 PM

The Nazca Lines are an enigma. The strange geometric shapes and animals carved into the land were first spotted in the Peruvian desert south of Lima in the 1930s when commercial airlines began flying over them.

No one has proof of who built them or why. Since their discovery, the Nazca Lines have inspired fantastic explanations ranging from monuments honoring ancient gods to a landing strip for alien spacecraft to a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization.

Anthony Aveni, a pioneer in the field of archaeoastronomy, particularly the astronomical history of Latin America, will present an illustrated lecture about the Nazca Lines on Monday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory library. The lecture is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Reservations should be made by June 10 to Cindy Graham at or 343-1790.

Aveni, the Russell Colgate Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology at Colgate University, will review a number of seemingly diverse hypotheses relating to the origins of the Nazca lines and put them to the test by the examination of relevant evidence derived from remains in the area.

The lecture is part of the Archaoeastronomy Summer Institute for teachers sponsored by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies and Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory.

Aveni helped develop the field of archaeoastronomy and now is considered one of the founders of Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy, in particular for his research in the astronomical history of the Aztec and Maya of ancient Mexico. Aveni has spoken or written on astronomy-related subjects on the Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel, “Nova,” the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, NPR, “The Larry King Show,” NBC’s “Today Show” and “Unsolved Mysteries,” and has lectured in more than 300 universities around the world. Aveni is the editor/author of more than two dozen books on ancient astronomy, including his upcoming book The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012.

A video of Aveni’s lecture will be archived online at several days following the event.

Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory is located at 1000 Oman Drive, Brentwood, Tenn. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Missy Pankake, (615) 322-NEWS