Water for Humanity - Appropriate Technology
The Underground Aqueducts of
by Steve Herbert
In 1988, I engineered the opportunity to travel to
One of the stops on the tour was the coastal desert plains of
Chariots of the Gods. Other theories connected the figures to archaeoastronomy, representations of astrological signs, or to the Nazca religion. Since the figures were characteristically drawn in one single line, some have explained the geoglyphs as a kind of “walking temple”.The figures on the plains of Nazca range up to the largest of over 900 feet long, leaving many to ponder why or how the Nazca people created such figures which they would not have been able to appreciate except from high above. This is why one theory gained popularity for a time positing the involvement of extraterrestrial visitors, put forth by Erich von Daniken in his book
Equally fascinating to me were the underground aqueducts of Nazca, called puguios in the local Quechua language. These subterranean man-made tunnels served as conduits to channel water, commonly from the Andean foothills, to irrigated fields. The pampa in this region normally remains at a constant temperature of 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) year round with very little wind and even less rain. There were about 50 of these features constructed by the Nazca people, which attested to their agricultural success to be able to afford to allocate so much labor to infrastructure. Some of these are still being used. During my visit, I saw that at periodic distances along each puquios was a feature some have variously called “blowholes”, “windows” or “chimneys”. These were positioned directly over the aqueduct with a narrow path spiraling down into it. It is speculated that these were used for periodic cleaning and maintenance, and occasionally for repair following tremors.
In recent years, a new theory has arisen to explain the geoglyphs of the Nazca plains, a theory which also ties the geoglyphs together with the aqueducts and underground water, and is rapidly supplanting previous explanations involving ancient astronauts and local religion. This new theory was originated with a dowser by the name of David Johnson. Mr. Johnson was a videographer on assignment with the Catholic Church who also happened to be a dowser. While going about his work during that trip in 1996, David began to wonder if the desert figures really had more to do with water, given the scarcity of the resource. Beginning his investigation with the use of dowsing, Mr. Johnson found that indeed the figures did seem to be associated with aquifers being tapped by the puquios. Conversely, he found that once one knew how to read the geoglyphs, like a map these could predict the locations of water sources.
During the trip I also visited the cities of