The Surprising Cantayoc Aqueducts of Nazca

Many travelers who find themselves short on time skip over Nazca during their trip, with at the most a short stop to fly over the iconic Nazca Lines. That's a shame, because the coastal desert of Peru is part of the country's stunning variety of landscapes, and was home to two impressive and mysterious pre-Columbian civilizations: the Paracas and the Nazca. It has much more to offer than just lines.

Sunny Nazca's arid climate has preserved a range of intriguing artifacts, including textiles and ceramics with intricate, mythical designs and millennia-old mummies which have retained their hair and skin.

Among these unique artifacts, one finds the subterranean Cantayoc Aqueducts. Built in the third through sixth century AD, they are still in use today. Because of the supreme importance of water for survival in such a climate, the Paracas and Nazca wasted no effort in securing this recourse, and after more than a thousand years, they are still providing water to transform parched ground into a fertile valley. A visit will suffice to convince you that they are unlike any other aqueducts you may have seen.

The channels, or puquios, are lined with river rocks stacked without any mortar, so that subsurface water could pass through the walls and then into underground aquifers, irrigation canals, and reservoirs. They connect to the surface through large manholes, through which one can enter them by descending along a spiral path.

During your visit to the aqueducts, you'll be able to walk through the plantations which rely on them, where giant Andean corn, cotton, and potatoes are grown.

The aqueducts may not be the only time these civilizations altered the landscape in order to supply water- among the competing theories surrounding the Nazca Lines is one that hypothesizes that they point to underground water sources…

Inca World Team
Publication date: 31 Jul 2014
Sources: <a href="">Carla Colon</a>

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