Even with the knowledge of the Nazca culture obtained from the archeological discoveries, it was not until 1929 that the Nazca Lines were discovered, when American scientist Paul Kosok looked out of his plane window as he flew over them. Almost invisible from ground level, the Lines were made by removing the surface stones and piling them beside the lighter soil underneath. More than 300 geometrical and biomorphic figures, some measuring up to 300 meters (1,000 feet) across,
are etched into the desert floor, including a hummingbird, a monkey, a spider, a pelican, a condor, a whale, and an "astronaut," so named because of his goldfish-bowl-shape head. Theories abound as to their purpose, and some have devoted their lives to the study of the Lines. Probably the most famous person to investigate the origin of the Nazca Lines was Kosok's translator, German scientist Dr. Maria Reiche, who studied the Lines from 1940 until her death in 1998.
Pampas de San José, 20 km (12 miles) northwest of Nazca town, Nazca, Peru