Truck Runs Over Ancient Peruvian Archaeological Site, Ignores Warning Signs

Aerial view of geoglyphs representating a guarango tree and hands, at Nazca Lines, some 435 km south of Lima, Peru. The area of the Nazca Lines cover nearly 500 km2. GETTY/Martin Bernetti

Peru's Nazca Lines, an ancient archaeological site and UNESCO World Heritage site, were damaged after a driver plowed a cargo truck through the sand, officials announced on Tuesday.

The driver left "deep prints in an area approximately 100 meters long," and damaged part of three geoglyph lines, according to a statement given to Agence France-Presse.

He ignored warning signs that tell drivers not to enter the area, and drove over the lines on January 27, AFP reported. The man was detained and had charges filed against him.

The lines, about 200 miles southeast of Lima, depict animals, plants and other figures in the Peruvian desert. They are estimated to have been created between 500 BC and 500 AD. Their purpose is unclear, but what mystifies archaeologists is their size––they can only be seen in their entirety from the sky. They span about 500 square miles.

They were discovered relatively recently, around 100 years ago, and some researchers think they were made for religious purposes, while others believe they were made to represent constellations.

Because the area is protected and a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's a restricted area. Some of the images featured in it are animals and insects, including a spider, a monkey, a hummingbird.

There are over 800 straight lines and hundreds of other figures.

The site is considered a Peruvian treasure, and scientists are still learning from it today. In 2017, researchers confirmed that an image they uncovered in 2013 was an enormous depiction of a killer whale––potentially the oldest image ever found at the site.

The Orca is roughly 200 feet long, and made researchers question why someone drew a sea mammal in the middle of the desert thousands of years ago.