Friday, 28 October 2016
Trowelblazers - Maria Reiche and the Nazca Lines
Maria Reiche was born in Germany, but spent most of her life in Peru. She studied mathematics and astronomy at Dresden University, and went to Peru in the 1930s to become a private tutor to a German-Peruvian family. Mr Tabel was the German consul and head of a local brewery. She remained in Peru during the Nazi era and through the Second World War, and by this time she had met Dr Paul Kosok, who had begun to study the Nazca Lines. Unfortunately, the Pan American highway had already been built across the area, damaging one of the figures.
Maria became Dr Kosok's research assistant, measuring the lines and suggesting astronomical reasons for the layout of the figures.
She spent the rest of her life studying the figures and protecting them - from a proposed cotton plantation in the 1950s, for instance, when the landowner wanted to irrigate the plain.
She had a tower built so that tourists could see the figures more easily without damaging them, and even went round the lines with a broom to clean them so they could be seen more easily. She said: "I went through so many brooms rumours circulated that I might be a witch!"
She died at the age of 95 in 1998.
There is now a Maria Reiche Park at Miraflores in Lima, with figures from the Nazca Lines laid out in flowers on the lawns.