Plea For Water

The Nazca people were probably doing rituals to plead for water from their gods, but for many years their intended purpose remained a mystery.  The ancient now vanished civilization who inhabited the Nazca desert between the Andes and Pacific Coast in Southern Peru, South America was once estimated to be as many as 25,000 people.  They spread across small villages and may have marked the location of their groundwater supply distribution system with geoglyphs because the springs and seeps associated with the faults provided a more reliable and, in some instances, a better-quality water source than the rivers.  These intricate patterns were created between 500 BCE and 500 CE by people making depressions or shallow incisions in the desert floor, removing pebbles, and leaving differently colored dirt exposed.  It is thought that the lines were made that large to make their gods see them and to show them that they had a desperate need for water making a message through the shapes.  The worship of mountains and other water sources predominated in Nazca religion and economy at this time.  Many of the Nazca Lines point to sources of water, especially where geological faults have diverted underground aquifers into the valley.  Some of the figures were symbols representing animals and some geoglyphs followed the paths of aquifers from which aqueducts called puquios collected water.  Puquios are ancient systems of subterranean aqueducts which allow water to be transported over long distances in hot dry climates without loss of much of the water to evaporation.

The first published mention of the Nazca Lines was by Pedro Cieza de León (a Spanish conquistador and chronicler of Peru) in his book of 1553, where he mistook them for trail markers.  The Nazca lines were then rediscovered by the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejía Xesspe in 1927, when he spotted them during a hike in the nearby hills.  Since the lines are virtually impossible to identify from ground level, they were only first brought to public awareness with the advent of flight, by pilots flying commercial planes over Peru in the 1930s.  They were first studied by Paul Kososk in 1937, who was examining ancient irrigation systems. There are about 300 figures among them including geometric shapes, animal like figures, straight continuous lines, humans, and plants.  What makes these geoglyphs exceptional is that they can only be seen from the air, or by climbing the Mirador, an observation tower perched on a hillside by the Pan-American highway 20 km north of Nazca.  This tower overlooks the geoglyphs known as the hands, the lizard, and the tree.  The Nazca lines are typically 10 to 15 cm (4–6 in) deep and less than 1 meter wide, so that would not provide enough resolution for the human eye to see these patterns from space, unlike the Great Wall of China, which is much taller and wider.

The Nazca people believed in multiple deities, and they tolerated all gods, so they were polytheistic and pantheistic.  These people worshipped gods who controlled aspects of nature, such as the sea, sky, earth, fire, water, and wind.  Their gods included a mythical killer whale, a hummingbird, a spotted cat, the harvesters, a serpentine creature and the most prevalent of worshiped figures, is the anthropomorphic supernatural mythical being who became known as known as the Oculate Being, because this creature has huge eyes.  It is a flying deity that often holds a disembodied head whose hair tuft resembles the cords often passed through the frontal bone of skulls that looks like strings of trophy-heads.  He has two-headed snakes that slither across his face, and a snake-like tongue.  The Oculate Being is often holding a knife, suggesting that he was associated with ritual sacrifice and decapitation.  I guess the Nazca people thought that the Oculate Being would notice the markings they made in the ground because of its ability to fly.  The inhabitants of Nazca believed that their gods lived in the mountains and that they took the form of condors to fly over the plain.  They tried to connect with their gods so they could adapt and thrive in one of the most arid regions in the world.  Their need for water affected their entire lifestyle and played a major role in the form and practice of their religion.  They adapted to the drastic desert conditions and understood that water was necessary for their agriculture, and they believed it was provided by their ancestors as givers of life.

People come and go, cities rise and fall, and whole civilizations will appear and disappear, but some of the structures that they build remain, although they may be slightly modified.  The existence of water resources led to the formation of civilizations and cultures in different regions.  The rise of agriculture and trade allowed people to have surplus food and economic stability, but every civilization is dependent on water and the ones who can adapt are the ones that survive.  If droughts caused streams to stop flowing, humans would move upstream or look for other water sources; and if these droughts persisted, they would migrate to other locations.  Each society established its own relationship with water and the availability of water affected where people would settle.  Water is one of the necessities for human life, and it can be considered the lifeblood of civilization.

People rely on water for our food, our health, our livelihoods, and for fun and leisure.  Billions of people lack water and​​ when waters run dry, people can’t get enough to drink, wash, or grow their crops, and it could lead to economic decline.  More than two billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and more than half the world’s population are without adequate sanitation services and this global problem is getting worse.  Due to increased human population and bad habits, water is being overused and polluted.  These numbers will increase significantly if climate change and population growth follow or exceed predicted trajectories.

For Friday Faithfuls today, I am asking how concerned you are about water.  Are you worried that you might be running out of clean water?  Are you experiencing increased evaporation due to warmer temperatures?  Did you ever, or do you now live in a place or ever visit an area where they warned you against drinking the water?  Do you live in a place that has restrictions on the amount of water that you are allowed to use?  Do you have any suggestions about what should be done to ensure that we will have enough water in the future?

7 comments

  1. Reblogged this on A Unique Title For Me and commented:

    Water is one of the simplest and most abundant molecules in the world and this vital resource has shaped our history and human society. Violent storms and floods can bring water in ferocious abundance, and just as quickly drought and desertification can create crippling shortages. Man developed a great knowledge about water over the years, but I believe that there is still much to be learned about water. The access to water and sanitation facilities became essential for human life, the improvements made in this area allowed us to show respect and have dignity for others. Early humans settled near lakesides or riverbanks because they needed to drink water. In the beginning, life was centered around water, as the ingestion of water was always essential for human life.

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