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Archaeology & History

Mystery of ancient Nazca spiral wells solved

By T.K. Randall
May 5, 2016 · Comment icon 12 comments



One of the original Nazca spiral funnels. Image Credit: Ab5602 - Public Domain
Researchers have managed to solve two mysteries pertaining to Peru's enigmatic Nazca civilization.
Best known for creating the mysterious Nazca Lines, the ancient people of the Nazca culture have also been attributed with the construction of an impressive system of underground canals as well as a series of unusual spiral-shaped wells that bore deep in to the soil.

Built over 2,000 years ago, the purpose of these peculiar funnels ( or Puquios ) had long remained something of a mystery, but now researchers in Italy may have finally pieced together exactly what they were used for and also how the Nazca people managed to thrive in such an arid environment.

The key is thought to lie in their network of subterranean aqueducts which would have been used to carry water from underground reservoirs to where it was needed by the local people.
Ingeniously, the spiral funnels are believed to have channelled strong winds down in to the tunnels where they would have helped to distribute the water throughout the system.

"The puquios were a sophisticated hydraulic system constructed to retrieve water from underground aquifers," said Rosa Lasaponara of the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis.

"[They] were the most ambitious hydraulic project in the Nazca area and made water available for the whole year, not only for agriculture and irrigation but also for domestic needs."

Source: Inquisitr.com | Comments (12)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Yes it is. I find the "weasel wording" of the article interesting as well. First the article says the mystery is solved and then the proof is explained by theories. They may be right, but it still sounds like they're guessing to me.
Comment icon #4 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
Yes it is. I find the "weasel wording" of the article interesting as well. First the article says the mystery is solved and then the proof is explained by theories. They may be right, but it still sounds like they're guessing to me. I would agree. The "strong winds" theory doesn't make sense to me. Looks more like the spiral was constructed to more easily get down to the well. Also, rainwater could more effectively drain into the well.
Comment icon #5 Posted by MJNYC 7 years ago
Probably a dumb question, but if this is the case, why isn't it retrieving water now?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Aitrui 7 years ago
@MJNYC Perhaps for the same reason the Band of Holes isn't catching water now? I have a theory that the Band of holes was designed to catch and channel snow/melt water down to the plains below. If there was seasonal snowfall due to a temporary climactic shift in the past I'm sure the people there would make an effort to ensure they got the most water out of it.
Comment icon #7 Posted by PersonFromPorlock 7 years ago
In addition to making the water easier to get to, the spiral form of the wells allowed the retaining walls to be braced by the earth they were leaning back against, giving them some resistance to damage in an earthquake, and limiting any damage to the part of the wall between the upper and lower sections of the path at that point. And if they were damaged, the stones would spill onto the pathway instead of all falling into a deep, narrow well bore. Lots easier to repair.
Comment icon #8 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
In addition to making the water easier to get to, the spiral form of the wells allowed the retaining walls to be braced by the earth they were leaning back against, giving them some resistance to damage in an earthquake, and limiting any damage to the part of the wall between the upper and lower sections of the path at that point. And if they were damaged, the stones would spill onto the pathway instead of all falling into a deep, narrow well bore. Lots easier to repair. That makes sense to me. The area commonly has earthquakes and a wide spiral structure like this would resist caving in much ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Corax 7 years ago
Probably a dumb question, but if this is the case, why isn't it retrieving water now? Out of 36 Puquios, most are still functioning - Barnes, Monica (10 September 1992), Nature 359
Comment icon #10 Posted by diablo_04 7 years ago
My opinion is that the wind theory is a BS. My opinion is that the spiral wells are made for two major reasons. - Having bigger surface area they can catch rain water. - Farm animals will have a easy access to the water and they can return back without any problem. I think this is one of the biggest reason if you ask me.
Comment icon #11 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
My opinion is that the wind theory is a BS. My opinion is that the spiral wells are made for two major reasons. - Having bigger surface area they can catch rain water. - Farm animals will have a easy access to the water and they can return back without any problem. I think this is one of the biggest reason if you ask me. Exactly, although I would add people access as well... Where is the evidence that such spirals would do anything useful with winds? Air does not speed up when it is deflected to turn thru circles (that's most certainly NOT what causes tornado wind strength) - it needs a pressu... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by jmccr8 7 years ago
I doubt that they would have allowed their livestock to drink from the well,as animals have a tendency to relieve themselves and contamination would be a problem.I don't know how many of you have been to a ranch that has a river running through it,but, where the livestock go to the water to drink usually has copious amounts of feces and urine. jmccr8


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