1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Peru Nazca Lines: UNESCO World Heritage Site damaged

January 31, 2018

A truck driver was handed a steep fine after driving his vehicle off the highway — and onto the Nazca Lines, a 2,000-year-old archaeological wonder only visible from the air. Local media said he wanted to avoid a toll.

Peru Nazca Lines
Image: Imago/S. spiegl

A 2,000-year-old ancient archaeological site in Peru was damaged over the weekend after a truck driver ignored warning signs and drove onto the site, leaving deep tire tracks.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, the Nazca Lines consist of around 370 giant drawings of plants and animals in a 450-square-kilometer area that can be seen from the sky. Their provenance remains unclear.

Image of a bird on the Peru Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are 370 drawings of plants and animalsImage: picture-alliance/Heritage Images/Werner Forman Archive

Despite signs around the perimeter noting the area was a heritage site, a truck driver drove onto the site on Saturday, damaging three parallel lines drawn out over a 50-by-100-meter large area. After being arrested later that day, the truck driver said he had suffered a mechanical problem and pulled off the road in order to change a tire. His excuse was disputed in Spanish-language media, which noted that he was likely trying to avoid a toll.

Peru's Culture Ministry said that the site will be protected by drones in the future, dpa reported. 

Read more: Nations to protect cultural heritage

International protection

It isn't the first time the Nazca Lines have been damaged. After a 2014 demonstration meant to draw attention to climate change irreparably damaged the lines, Austrian Greenpeace activist Wolfgang Sadik was slapped with a $200,000 (€160,700) fine and a suspended jail sentence.

Truck driving over landscape with Nazca Lines
The truck driver ignored warning signsImage: picture-alliance/epa/P. Aguila

The designation of a landmark by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is aimed at preserving a place that is considered geographically, historically or culturally significant. Although the protected zones are legally protected by international treaties, it has proven difficult in some instances to prosecute those who damage the areas, as has been shown in the destruction of six recognized sites in Syria.

Read more: An expert on heritage sites tells DW how to restore the UNESCO-protected Palmyra

ct/cmb (dpa, afp, EFE)

Skip next section Explore more