A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

But What Would Erik von Daniken Say?

A satellite image of a condor-shaped mound at center of photo

The high plains of southern Peru are famous for the Nazca Lines – animal shapes about an eighth of a mile long that were carved into the high plateau land around 400 C.E. and were once thought by some, like the controversial author Erik von Daniken, to have been landing strips for extraterrestrials. (Most likely, they were related to irrigation systems – perhaps as part of local rituals to help summon water to the arid land.)

The Nazca Lines (photo right) are a major accomplishment, but they have nothing on some massive mounds, further north in the Peruvian desert, that archeologist Dr. Robert Benfer has identified as being ancient, animal-shaped mounds that can be found throughout the coast of Peru.

In two sites in the Chillón River valley, in the northern outskirts of Lima, he found small mounds representing crouching animals and soaring condors. And in the Casma River valley near Ancash, he has identified massive mounds, about a quarter of a mile long, representing animals including a giant condor, an orca, a duck, and a caiman/puma monster also seen in bone and rock carvings from the area.

Many of the mounds appear to have been topped with monoliths. 

A few mounds had already been identified near the Nazca lines, dating back some 2,000 years. But these newly-discovered ones are much older – up to 5,000 years old, which is around the same time as the building of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

In an article in the British journal Antiquity, Benfer speculates that the mounds represented figures from the Andean zodiac since they also align with them. So far, he has found astronomical orientations at every giant mound. At the Chillón Valley site, an earthen condor’s charcoal eye lines up with the Milky Way when viewed from the site of a nearby temple. And the caiman/puma mound aligns with the June solstice when viewed from the same temple site.

He says that he found the mounds using satellite images of the coastal valleys, and that he expects that more mounds may be found in some other of the country’s coastal valleys.

Massive animal-shaped mounds began to be identified by European settlers in North America about 150 years ago. They include the famous Serpent Mound in Ohio.