The story

Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The Nazca Lines are a series of large shapes embedded in the earth known as “geoglyphs” in Peru’s Nazca Desert.

History of the Nazca Lines

Spread over 450 square kilometres of the Pampa Colorada region in between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, the origin of the Nazca Lines is a subject of much debate, but they are believed to have been created by the Nazca Civilisation between 500 BC and 500 AD.

Exactly why the lines were created is another topic of discussion. Some have theorized that they were some sort of astrological calendar used for agricultural reasons, whilst others view it as some kind of water cult – life in the desert relied heavily on water to sustain populations. A variety of other suggestions have been hinted at over the years, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the simple answer is that we just don’t know what they were created for.

Amongst the enigmatic shapes is a monkey, two human beings one of which is known as the “astronaut”, a hummingbird, a spider and a tree. There are over 300 geolyphs (geometric figures) and 70 biomorphs (animal/plant drawings), as well as many more straight lines.

The shapes were created by moving darker stones to reveal lighter soil underneath: the lines would only really have been visible from above, which had led some to hypothesise that the Nazca could see the lines from above.

Nazca Lines today

The lines are in the middle of the desert: most people who really want to see them book a flight to see them from above to appreciate their true extent. If you don’t fancy a flight or are on a budget, head towards the nearby Pan American Highway observation tower, which gives you a decent view of three of the images.

Flights over the lines rely heavily on good weather conditions. Some flight operators are of questionable safety, and crashes are not unheard of, so be sure to book with a reputable operator.

Getting to the Nazca Lines

The lines are about 6km north west of the town of Nazca, on the Pan American Highway. You can normally find a bus or a combi rom Nazca to get you here. Flights depart from Nazca or Ica, which is 115km north.

The Nazca Lines: A Life's Work

The World Heritage-listed Nazca lines are a well-known part of the ancient heritage of Peru. One woman spent over 50 years studying and protecting them. Ana Maria Cogorno Mendoza shares the story of Dr Maria Reiche.

The lines and geoglyphs of Nazca are one of the most impressive-looking archaeological areas in the world and an extraordinary example of the traditional and millenary magical-religious world of the ancient Pre-Hispanic societies. They are located in the desert plains of the basin river of Rio Grande de Nazca, the archaeological site covering an area of approximately 75,358.47 hectares.


For nearly 2,000 uninterrupted years, the region’s ancient inhabitants drew thousands of large-scale zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures and lines on the arid ground - animals, birds, insects, other living creatures and flowers, plants and trees, as well as geometric shapes and miles of lines of deformed or fantastic figures. In 1939 CE they were rediscovered and a year later, Dr Maria Rieche, began a lifetime of study and protection of these remarkable sites.

The impressive story of the Pre-Hispanic culture in Peru dates back to before the arrival of the Spanish Conquest (1532 – 1572 CE). Over many centuries, ancient civilisations created a vast array of wonderful monuments all over Peru, but all of them had in common an astronomical connection. These cultures developed advanced techniques of agriculture, gold and silver work, pottery, metallurgy and weaving. Some of the social structures from the 12th century CE formed the basis of the later Inca Empire.


In the arid coastal plain, 400 km south of Lima, in the department of Ica, we find one of the oldest, most extraordinary civilisations: the Paracas culture. This culture flourished on the southern Pacific coast of the central Andes around 600 - 150 BCE and is one of the earliest known complex societies in Peru. The great Paracas Necropolis was discovered by archaeologist Dr Julio C Tello. In 1927 CE, he discovered 429 mummy bundles in Cerro Colorado in the Paracas Peninsula. In the vast communal burial site, he found these mummy bundles, each with their body in the foetal position and bound with cords. They were wrapped in many layers of wonderful woven textiles, considered some of the finest ever produced, and dated to around 300 - 200 BCE.

The Paracas Peninsula is a desert within the boundaries of the Paracas National Reservation, a marine reserve which extends south along the coast. The only marine reserve in Peru, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Protected Natural Area is considered one of the strangest and richest ecosystems in the world and is home to colonies of sea lions and thousands of resident and migratory sea birds, including pelicans, flamingos, boobies, cormorants, terns, gulls, and in summer, condors.

Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter!

Magazine Syndication

Timeless Travels Magazine

The Nazca Lines

One of the most sophisticated of the early Peruvian cultures is the pre-Hispanic Nazca civilisation, known for the carvings which they etched onto the surface of the ground between 400 BCE and 650 CE. The builders of these magic and mysterious lines and geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa created a sacred place. The geoglyphs are one of the most unique and extraordinary artistic achievements, unrivalled in their diversity and dimensions, anywhere in the world. In the arid Peruvian coastal plains, 450 km south of Lima, in the high and arid plateau of the basin of Rio Grande, the area stretches 50 km between the towns of Palpa and Nazca.


The Nazca plain is unique in its preservation due to the combination of the climate, one of the driest in the world, with little rainfall each year, and the flat stony ground which minimises the effect of the wind at ground level. Beneath the desert’s crust of pebbles, which contain ferrous oxide, is a lighter-coloured subsoil. The exposure over centuries has given the crust of pebbles a dark patina. When the dark gravel is removed, it contrasts with the paler-coloured soil underneath.

In this way, the lines were drawn as furrows of a lighter colour, even though in some cases they became prints. In other cases, the stones defining the lines and drawings form small lateral humps of different sizes. Some drawings, especially the early ones, were made by removing the stones and gravel from their contours and in this way the figures stood out in high relief. The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines and drawings leave no doubt that they required intensive long-term labour, as is demonstrated by the stylistic continuity of the designs, which clearly correspond to the different stages of cultural changes.


The images represent a remarkable manifestation of a common religion and social homogeneity that lasted a considerable period of time. They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world and are unmatched in their extent, magnitude, quantity, size, diversity and ancient tradition. The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines, as well as their cultural continuity, demonstrate that this was an important and long-lasting activity, lasting approximately 1,000 years.

Apart from the anthropomorphic figures, the lines, which are generally straight lines, criss-cross certain parts of the pampas in all directions. Some are several kilometres in length and form designs of many different geometrical figures, triangles, spirals, rectangles and wavy lines. Others radiate from a central promontory or encircle it. Another group consists of so-called '"tracks", which appear to have been laid out to accommodate large numbers of people.

This unique and magnificent artistic achievement of the Andean culture is unrivalled in its extension, dimensions and diversity and long existence anywhere in the prehistoric world. The designs are laid out with outstanding geometric precision, transforming the vast land into the highly symbolic, ritualistic and social-cultural landscape that remains to this day.


Quite apart from the geometric shapes and several zoomorphic designs, what it is amazing is the abstract conception of the designs, which demonstrate a perfect harmony. The inspiration of their work suggests they may have been ritual offerings to a goddess, which even now relates to extraordinary natural celestial events.

One of the best known of the prehistoric geoglyphs, called El Candelabro (the Trident), is 600 feet tall and can be seen from twelve miles out to sea. It is on the slope of a hill facing the ocean and was created by the Paracas people by removing the top layer to reveal the lighter layer underneath in low relief. This geoglyph is related to the geoglyphs, lines and figures of Nazca. When archaeologist Dr Maria Reiche was measuring the geoglyphs she found pieces of broken pottery belonging to the Paracas people on the site. Although the exact age of the design is still unknown, Dr Reiche analysed the broken pottery through carbon dating to around 200 BCE.

What is interesting is that the design looks out towards the ocean from the hillside. It is amazing to see how the Paracas people observed where to place the figure for good natural conservation, with the salt of the sea breeze, the sun and the strong wind making a perfect crust of layers to create a patina over hundreds of years.

The wise men of the Paracas culture, fathers of the Nazca people, were great astronomers. They observed celestial events and realised the importance of time, nature, and cosmos. Almost all their temples were near the ocean, mountains, rivers, hills and valleys, which were considered sacred and alive. Their philosophy was for a peaceful way of life. El Candelabro has a special appearance when rain has fallen, as the patina of salt which naturally conserves the figure can be seen.

The system of lines and geoglyphs, which has survived intact for more than two millennia, evidences an unusual way of using the land and the natural environment that represents a highly symbolic cultural landscape. The construction technology allowed them to design large-scale figures with outstanding geometric precision. Set in their surrounding landscape they create a harmonious relationship that has survived virtually unaltered over the centuries.

The authenticity of the lines and geoglyphs of Nazca is indisputable. The method of their formation, by removing the overlying weathered gravels to reveal the lighter bedrock, is such that their authenticity is assured. The creation, design, morphology, size and variety of the geoglyphs and lines correspond to the original designs produced during the historical evolution of the regions and have remained unchanged. The ideology, symbolism and sacred and ritual character of the geoglyphs and the landscape are clearly represented, and their significance remains intact even today.

Dr Maria Reiche

Dr Maria Reiche was born on May 15, 1903 CE in Dresden, Germany, where she graduated in Mathematics, Geography and Astronomy, as well as speaking five languages. In 1932 CE she arrived in Peru to work in Cusco city as a teacher to the sons of the German Consulate, where she lived for three years.

Her first astronomical investigation was at Machu Picchu in the Intihuatana temple. The notable ritual stone related to an astronomical clock or calendar it was aligned with the sun’s position during the winter solstice. She carried out more important astronomical research near Lima, perhaps one of the most important contributions to archaeology, relating to the astronomical positions of the religious temple. Established in 200 CE, the temple's main power lay in its deity Pachacamac, the 'Earth Maker' creator god, who made the earth tremble and brought life to everything in the universe.

It was not until the 20th century CE, however, that the Nazca lines drawn in the sand were actually discovered. Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejía Xesspe first saw the lines in 1927 CE after finding them almost by accident, since they are practically invisible at the surface. He assumed that they were “sacred pathways”.

In 1939 CE, Paul Kosok, an American professor in History at Long Island University in New York and the main expert on irrigation systems of ancient cultures of the world, came to Peru. He was interested in the irrigation system in the Nazca region and became the first scholar to explore the lines in depth. The following year, he introduced Maria Reiche to the site and a new hypothesis soon developed. They happened to be standing near one of the long straight lines at sunset when they both made a discovery that would change their lives.

This happened on June 21, 1939 CE, the southern hemisphere's shortest day of the year. Kosok and Reiche noticed that the sun was setting almost exactly over the end of one of the Nazca Lines, so it appeared to be a solstice line. Pronouncing the lines “the largest astronomy book in the world”, Kosok then took aerial photographs in order to get a complete overview. The following December, on the summer solstice, Reiche also found such lines and, captivated by the landscape and the scope of Kosok’s project, found her own life changed forever.

With their new information, Reiche and Kosok quickly refuted the “sacred pathways” hypothesis. In Reiche's view, which has changed little over the decades, the lines represented a gigantic astronomical calendar recording the passage of the seasons and predicting solar and lunar eclipses. The lines plot the directions of the stars: for example, the spider (150 feet long) is associated with the constellation of Orion, as is the monkey with the Pleiades. The latter, covering over 300 feet, was Reiche’s favourite figure and, like Reiche herself (who lost a finger at Cuzco), displays only four fingers on one hand, a divine characteristic that is found in other drawings as well.

The Nazca people were able to become a part of the grand astronomical design, observing the movements of heavenly bodies and learning exactly when to begin planting and when to harvest', Reiche said.

Reiche also associated the enormous figure of the monkey with the Big Dipper constellation by uncovering lines connected to the figure that indicates the position of this constellation's largest star. The monkey could also be considered a god of water since the appearance of the Big Dipper announces the arrival of the rainy season.

After Kosok left in 1948 CE, she continued the work and mapped the entire area and determined there were 18 different kinds of animals and birds. She also discovered how the Nazca solved calculus problems in order to trace perfectly proportioned figures on a gigantic scale. Not only did they employ charts to measure small distances and then multiply them by using stakes and long cords in the manner of giant compasses, but they also knew how to measure angles. In other words, they understood the principles of geometry.

Because the lines can be seen best from above, she persuaded the Peruvian Air Force to help her make aerial photographic surveys. Reiche devoted her life to saving this archaeological site which is unique in the world. She worked alone from her home in Nazca and funded all her research herself, only helped financially by her sister, Dr Renata Reiche.

In 1949 CE she published her theories in the book The Mystery on the Desert (reprinted in 1968 CE) and used the profits from the book to campaign for the preservation of the Nazca desert and to hire guards to protect the Lines. The Pan American Highway, a government development, cut into some of the pictographs, especially the longest, a lizard measuring over 600 feet and so she spent a lot of money lobbying the government and educating the public about the lines. After paying for private security to protect the geoglyphs, she finally convinced the government to restrict public access to the area but provided towers near the highway so that visitors could have an overview of the lines to appreciate them without damaging them.

Many scholars have followed her investigations but it is through her lonely struggles against destruction and her passion for preservation that the Nazca lines and geoglyphs have been conserved for a new generation.

Now the lines and geoglyphs of Nazca, with their protection area that extends over 75,358.47 ha, are well defined and, together with their surrounding landscape, make a harmonious relationship that has survived virtually unaltered over the centuries.

Reiche spent almost 60 years of her life in the pampas. Still remembered well in the town of Nazca for regaling locals and visitors with her magnetic storytelling, she is also revered for her unceasing life's work, which included cleaning the contours of almost 1,000 lines with ladder and broom. She has also defied those who wanted to convert the area into an immense agricultural operation. Her studies (collected in 60 notebooks) are illuminated by her conservationist zeal. Her contributions to the geometry and astronomy of ancient Peru were published in 1993 CE when she was 90 years old.

Maria Reiche died on June 8, 1998 CE, at the age of 95. She had devoted more than half her life to the measuring and mapping of the lines. Her intensive work for so many years was also costly to her health as exposure to the bright sun eventually caused her to go blind. During her lifetime she received much acknowledgement and numerous honours from all over the world and inspired many new generations of scientists with her passion for preserving the Nazca Lines.

One of her greatest achievements was the nomination of the lines and geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa World Cultural Heritage as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 CE, and her great efforts in the protection and maintenance work of the site became the responsibility of the Peruvian Government.


Crystal skulls made their first appearance in the public eye in the second half of the 19th century. Nearly all of them were said to be Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican in origin, though it couldn’t be agreed upon who had carved these skulls. They were made out of various materials - from glass, to resin, to quartz. They were usually touted as being Toltec, Aztec, Mixtec, and sometimes Maya. The earliest one appeared in 1856 and Mexican crystal skulls were reported as early as 1863. These crystal skulls were usually small, about 1 inch tall and resembled carved beads more than the most infamous version of the crystal skull. In 1867, Eugene Boban, the official “archaeologist” (quotes belong to the source, not mine), of Maximilian von Hapsburg, the emperor of Mexico at the time. Mexico City’s national museum purchased a crystal skull in 1874 and again in 1880. The Smithsonian acquired one in 1886, which was later exposed as a fake in the 1950s, when it was examined and proved to have been carved with a modern lapidary wheel.

Boban himself had a checkered past and tried to advertise one of his crystal skulls without giving its provenance (where and in what context it was discovered) and even called it a masterpiece of lapidary technology. When it failed to sell, he tried hawking it to Mexico’s national museum as a genuine Aztec artifact. However, his partner claimed he was a fraud who dealt in smuggled antiquities. Based on this and the museum curator’s investigation, the museum did not accept it was genuine.


Origins Edit

In the late 1960s, the U.S. had planned its Cannikin underground nuclear weapon test in the tectonically unstable island of Amchitka in Alaska the plans raised some concerns of the test triggering earthquakes and causing a tsunami. A 1969 demonstration of 7,000 [26] people blocked the Peace Arch Border Crossing between British Columbia and Washington, [27] carrying signs reading "Don't Make A Wave. It's Your Fault If Our Fault Goes". [28] and "Stop My Ark's Not Finished." The protests did not stop the U.S. from detonating the bomb. [28]

While no earthquake or tsunami followed the test, the opposition grew when the U.S. announced they would detonate a bomb five times more powerful than the first one. Among the opponents were Jim Bohlen, a veteran who had served in the U.S. Navy, and Irving Stowe and Dorothy Stowe, who had recently become Quakers. They were frustrated by the lack of action by the Sierra Club Canada, of which they were members. [28] From Irving Stowe, Jim Bohlen learned of a form of passive resistance, "bearing witness", where objectionable activity is protested simply by mere presence. [28] Jim Bohlen's wife Marie came up with the idea to sail to Amchitka, inspired by the anti-nuclear voyages of Albert Bigelow in 1958. The idea ended up in the press and was linked to The Sierra Club. [28] The Sierra Club did not like this connection and in 1970 The Don't Make a Wave Committee was established for the protest. Early meetings were held in the Shaughnessy home of Robert Hunter and his wife Bobbi Hunter. Subsequently, the Stowe home at 2775 Courtenay Street (Vancouver) became the headquarters. [29] As Rex Weyler put it in his chronology, Greenpeace, in 1969, Irving and Dorothy Stowe's "quiet home on Courtenay Street would soon become a hub of monumental, global significance". Some of the first Greenpeace meetings were held there. The first office was opened in a backroom, storefront on Cypress and West Broadway SE corner in Kitsilano, Vancouver. [30] Within half a year Greenpeace moved in to share the upstairs office space with The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation at 4th and Maple in Kitsilano. [31]

Irving Stowe arranged a benefit concert (supported by Joan Baez) that took place on 16 October 1970 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. [32] The concert created the financial basis for the first Greenpeace campaign. [33] Amchitka, the 1970 concert that launched Greenpeace was published by Greenpeace in November 2009 on CD and is also available as an mp3 download via the Amchitka concert website. Using the money raised with the concert, the Don't Make a Wave Committee chartered a ship, the Phyllis Cormack owned and sailed by John Cormack. The ship was renamed Greenpeace for the protest after a term coined by activist Bill Darnell. [28]

On September 15th 1971, the ship sailed towards Amchitka and faced the U.S. Coast Guard ship Confidence [28] which forced the activists to turn back. Because of this and the increasingly bad weather the crew decided to return to Canada only to find out that the news about their journey and reported support from the crew of the Confidence had generated sympathy for their protest. [28] After this Greenpeace tried to navigate to the test site with other vessels, until the U.S. detonated the bomb. [28] The nuclear test was criticized and the U.S. decided not to continue with their test plans at Amchitka.

Founders and founding time of Greenpeace Edit

Environmental historian Frank Zelko dates the formation of the "Don't Make a Wave Committee" to 1969 and, according to Jim Bohlen, the group adopted the name "Don't Make a Wave Committee" on 28 November 1969. [34] According to the Greenpeace web site, The Don't Make a Wave Committee was established in 1970. [35] Certificate of incorporation of The Don't Make a Wave Committee dates the incorporation to the fifth of October, 1970. [36] Researcher Vanessa Timmer dates the official incorporation to 1971. [37] Greenpeace itself calls the protest voyage of 1971 as "the beginning". [38] According to Patrick Moore, who was an early member and has since mutually distanced himself from Greenpeace, and Rex Weyler, the name of "The Don't Make a Wave Committee" was officially changed to Greenpeace Foundation in 1972. [36] [39]

Vanessa Timmer has referred to the early members as "an unlikely group of loosely organized protestors". [37] Frank Zelko has commented that "unlike Friends of the Earth, for example, which sprung fully formed from the forehead of David Brower, Greenpeace developed in a more evolutionary manner. There was no single founder". [40] Greenpeace itself says on its web page that "there's a joke that in any bar in Vancouver, British Columbia, you can sit down next to someone who claims to have founded Greenpeace. In fact, there was no single founder: name, idea, spirit and tactics can all be said to have separate lineages". [35] Patrick Moore has said that "the truth is that Greenpeace was always a work in progress, not something definitively founded like a country or a company. Therefore there are a few shades of gray about who might lay claim to being a founder of Greenpeace." [36] Early Greenpeace director Rex Weyler says on his homepage that the insiders of Greenpeace have debated about the founders since the mid-1970s. [41]

The current Greenpeace web site lists the founders of The Don't Make a Wave Committee as Dorothy and Irving Stowe, Marie and Jim Bohlen, Ben and Dorothy Metcalfe, and Robert Hunter. [35] According to both Patrick Moore and an interview with Dorothy Stowe, Dorothy Metcalfe, Jim Bohlen and Robert Hunter, the founders of The Don't Make a Wave Committee were Paul Cote, Irving and Dorothy Stowe and Jim and Marie Bohlen. [36] [42]

Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society maintains that he also was one of the founders of The Don't Make a Wave Committee and Greenpeace. [43] Greenpeace has stated that Watson was an influential early member, but not one of the founders of Greenpeace. [44] Watson has since accused Greenpeace of rewriting their history. [43]

Because Patrick Moore was among the crew of the first protest voyage, Moore also considers himself one of the founders. Greenpeace claims that although Moore was a significant early member, he was not among the founders of Greenpeace. [42] [45]

After Amchitka Edit

After the office in the Stowe home, (and after the first concert fund-raiser) Greenpeace functions moved to other private homes and held public meetings weekly on Wednesday nights at the Kitsilano Neighborhood House before settling, in the autumn of 1974, in a small office shared with the SPEC environmental group at 2007 West 4th at Maple in Kitsilano. When the nuclear tests at Amchitka were over, Greenpeace moved its focus to the French atmospheric nuclear weapons testing at the Moruroa Atoll in French Polynesia. The young organization needed help for their protests and were contacted by David McTaggart, a former businessman living in New Zealand. In 1972 the yacht Vega, a 12.5-metre (41 ft) ketch owned by David McTaggart, was renamed Greenpeace III and sailed in an anti-nuclear protest into the exclusion zone at Moruroa to attempt to disrupt French nuclear testing. This voyage was sponsored and organized by the New Zealand branch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. [46] The French Navy tried to stop the protest in several ways, including assaulting David McTaggart. McTaggart was supposedly beaten to the point that he lost sight in one of his eyes. However, one of McTaggart's crew members photographed the incident and went public. After the assault was publicized, France announced it would stop the atmospheric nuclear tests. [28]

In the mid-1970s some Greenpeace members started an independent campaign, Project Ahab, against commercial whaling, since Irving Stowe was against Greenpeace focusing on other issues than nuclear weapons. [47] After Irving Stowe died in 1975, the Phyllis Cormack sailed from Vancouver to face Soviet whalers on the coast of California. Greenpeace activists disrupted the whaling by placing themselves between the harpoons and the whales, and footage of the protests spread across the world. Later in the 1970s, the organization widened its focus to include toxic waste and commercial seal hunting. [28]

The "Greenpeace Declaration of Interdependence" was published by Greenpeace in the Greenpeace Chronicles (Winter 1976-77). This declaration was a condensation of a number of ecological manifestos Bob Hunter had written over the years.

Organizational development Edit

Greenpeace evolved from a group of Canadian and American protesters into a less conservative group of environmentalists who were more reflective of the counterculture and hippie youth movements of the 1960s and 1970s. [48] The social and cultural background from which Greenpeace emerged heralded a period of de-conditioning away from Old World antecedents and sought to develop new codes of social, environmental and political behavior. [49] [50]

In the mid-1970s independent groups using the name Greenpeace started springing up worldwide. By 1977, there were 15 to 20 Greenpeace groups around the world. [51] At the same time the Canadian Greenpeace office was heavily in debt. Disputes between offices over fund-raising and organizational direction split the global movement as the North American offices were reluctant to be under the authority of the Canada office. [51]

After the incidents of Moruroa Atoll, David McTaggart had moved to France to battle in court with the French state and helped to develop the cooperation of European Greenpeace groups. [28] David McTaggart lobbied the Canadian Greenpeace Foundation to accept a new structure bringing the scattered Greenpeace offices under the auspices of a single global organization. The European Greenpeace paid the debt of the Canadian Greenpeace office and on 14 October 1979, Greenpeace International came into existence. [37] [51] Under the new structure, the local offices contributed a percentage of their income to the international organization, which took responsibility for setting the overall direction of the movement with each regional office having one vote. [51] Some Greenpeace groups, namely London Greenpeace (dissolved in 2001) and the US-based Greenpeace Foundation (still operational) however decided to remain independent from Greenpeace International. [52] [53]

Governance Edit

Greenpeace consists of Greenpeace International (officially Stichting Greenpeace Council) based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and 26 regional offices operating in 55 countries. [54] The regional offices work largely autonomously under the supervision of Greenpeace International. The executive director of Greenpeace is elected by the board members of Greenpeace International. The current directors of Greenpeace International are Bunny McDiarmid and Jennifer Morgan and the current Chair of the Board is Ana Toni. [55] [56] Greenpeace has a staff of 2,400 [57] and 15,000 volunteers globally. [1]

Each regional office is led by a regional executive director elected by the regional board of directors. The regional boards also appoint a trustee to The Greenpeace International Annual General Meeting, where the trustees elect or remove the board of directors of Greenpeace International. The annual general meeting's role is also to discuss and decide the overall principles and strategically important issues for Greenpeace in collaboration with the trustees of regional offices and Greenpeace International board of directors. [58]

Funding Edit

Greenpeace receives its funding from individual supporters and foundations. [5] [7] Greenpeace screens all major donations in order to ensure it does not receive unwanted donations. [59] The organization does not accept money from governments, intergovernmental organizations, political parties or corporations in order to avoid their influence. [5] [7] [59] However, Greenpeace does receive money from the National Postcode Lottery, the biggest government-sponsored lottery in the Netherlands.

Donations from foundations which are funded by political parties or receive most of their funding from governments or intergovernmental organizations are rejected. Foundation donations are also rejected if the foundations attach unreasonable conditions, restrictions or constraints on Greenpeace activities or if the donation would compromise the independence and aims of Greenpeace. [59] Since in the mid-1990s the number of supporters started to decrease, Greenpeace pioneered the use of face-to-face fundraising where fundraisers actively seek new supporters at public places, subscribing them for a monthly direct debit donation. [60] [61] In 2008, most of the €202.5 million received by the organization was donated by about 2.6 million regular supporters, mainly from Europe. [57] In 2014, the annual revenue of Greenpeace was reported to be about €300 million (US$400 million) although they lost about €4 million (US$5 million) in currency speculation that year. [62]

In September 2003, Public Interest Watch (PIW) complained to the Internal Revenue Service that Greenpeace USA tax returns were inaccurate and in violation of the law. [63] [64] The IRS conducted an extensive review and concluded in December 2005 that Greenpeace USA continued to qualify for its tax-exempt status. In March 2006 The Wall Street Journal reported that PIW's "federal tax filing, covering August 2003 to July 2004, stated that $120,000 of the $124,095 the group received in contributions during that period came from Exxon Mobil". [65] In 2013, after the IRS performed a follow-up audit, which again was clean, and, following claims of politically motivated IRS audits of groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director Phil Radford called for a Congressional investigation into all politically motivated audits – including those allegedly targeting the Tea Party Movement, the NAACP, and Greenpeace. [66]

Digital transformation Edit

International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo declared the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference a "colossal failure" and indicated the organization faced a "burning platform" moment. Naidoo encouraged Greenpeace's international executive directors to embrace new strategies and tactics or risk becoming irrelevant. [67]

To implement a new strategy approved in 2010, Greenpeace hired Michael Silberman to build a "Digital Mobilisation Centre of Excellence" in 2011, [67] which turned into the Mobilisation Lab ("MobLab"). Designed as a source of best practices, testing, and strategy development, the MobLab also focused on increasing digital capacity and promoting community-based campaigning [68] in 42 countries. [69] In March 2017, the MobLab spun out of Greenpeace through a joint investment by Greenpeace and CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation." [70]

On its International website, Greenpeace defines its mission as the following:

"Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and develop solutions for a green and peaceful future. Our goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity. That means we want to:
- Stop the planet from warming beyond 1.5º to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate breakdown.
- Protect biodiversity in all its forms.
- Slow the volume of hyper-consumption and learn to live within our means.
- Promote renewable energy as a solution that can power the world.
- Nurture peace, global disarmament and non-violence." [71] [ failed verification ]

Greenpeace was one of the first parties to formulate a sustainable development scenario for climate change mitigation, which it did in 1993. [72] According to sociologists Marc Mormont and Christine Dasnoy, Greenpeace played a significant role in raising public awareness of global warming in the 1990s. [73] The organization has also focused on CFCs, because of both their global warming potential and their effect on the ozone layer. Greenpeace was one of the leading participants advocating early phase-out of ozone depleting substances in the Montreal Protocol. [15] In the early 1990s, Greenpeace developed a CFC-free refrigerator technology, "Greenfreeze" for mass production together with the refrigerator industry. [15] United Nations Environment Programme awarded Greenpeace for "outstanding contributions to the protection of the Earth's ozone layer" in 1997. [74] In 2011 two-fifths of the world's total production of refrigerators were based on Greenfreeze technology, with over 600 million units in use. [15] [75]

Currently Greenpeace considers global warming to be the greatest environmental problem facing the Earth. [76] Greenpeace calls for global greenhouse gas emissions to peak in 2015 and to decrease as close to zero as possible by 2050. To reach these numbers, Greenpeace has called for the industrialized countries to cut their emissions at least 40% by 2020 (from 1990 levels) and to give substantial funding for developing countries to build a sustainable energy capacity, to adapt to the inevitable consequences of global warming, and to stop deforestation by 2020. [77] Together with EREC, Greenpeace has formulated a global energy scenario, "Energy [R]evolution", where 80% of the world's total energy is produced with renewables, and the emissions of the energy sector are decreased by over 80% of the 1990 levels by 2050. [78]

Using direct action, Greenpeace has protested several times against coal by occupying coal power plants and blocking coal shipments and mining operations, in places such as New Zealand, [79] Svalbard, [80] Australia, [81] and the United Kingdom. [82] Greenpeace is also critical of extracting petroleum from oil sands and has used direct action to block operations at the Athabasca oil sands in Canada. [83] [84]

Greenpeace Energy Edit

In 1999 Greenpeace in Germany founded Greenpeace Energy, a for-profit energy utility which sells 99% fossil gas marketed as ProWindGas. The NGO remains a minority shareholder in the company, which has been criticized for "greenwashing" Russian gas. [85]

Kingsnorth court case Edit

In October 2007, six Greenpeace protesters were arrested for breaking into the Kingsnorth power station in Kent, England climbing the 200-metre smokestack, painting the name Gordon on the chimney (in reference to former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown), and causing an estimated £30,000 damage. At their subsequent trial they admitted trying to shut the station down, but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change from causing greater damage to property elsewhere around the world. Evidence was heard from David Cameron's environment adviser Zac Goldsmith, climate scientist James E. Hansen and an Inuit leader from Greenland, all saying that climate change was already seriously affecting life around the world. The six activists were acquitted. It was the first case where preventing property damage caused by climate change has been used as part of a "lawful excuse" defense in court. [86] Both The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian described the acquittal as embarrassment to the Brown Ministry. [87] [88] In December 2008 The New York Times listed the acquittal in its annual list of the most influential ideas of the year. [89]

"Go Beyond Oil" Edit

As part of their stance on renewable energy commercialisation, Greenpeace have launched the "Go Beyond Oil" campaign. [90] The campaign is focused on slowing, and eventually ending, the world's consumption of oil with activist activities taking place against companies that pursue oil drilling as a venture. Much of the activities of the "Go Beyond Oil" campaign have been focused on drilling for oil in the Arctic and areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The activities of Greenpeace in the arctic have mainly involved the Edinburgh-based oil and gas exploration company, Cairn Energy and range from protests at the Cairn Energy's headquarters [91] to scaling their oil rigs in an attempt to halt the drilling process. [92]

The "Go Beyond Oil" campaign also involves applying political pressure on the governments who allow oil exploration in their territories with the group stating that one of the key aims of the "Go Beyond Oil" campaign is to "work to expose the lengths the oil industry is willing to go to squeeze the last barrels out of the ground and put pressure on industry and governments to move beyond oil." [90]

Nuclear power Edit

Greenpeace is opposed to nuclear power because it views it as "dangerous, polluting, expensive and non-renewable". The organization highlights the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 and Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 as evidence of the risk nuclear power can pose to people's lives, the environment and the economy. [93] Greenpeace views the benefits of nuclear power to be relatively minor in comparison to its major problems and risks, such as environmental damage and risks from uranium mining, nuclear weapons proliferation, and unresolved questions concerning nuclear waste. [94] The organization argues that the potential of nuclear power to mitigate global warming is marginal, referring to the IEA energy scenario where an increase in world's nuclear capacity from 2608 TWh in 2007 to 9857 TWh by 2050 would cut global greenhouse gas emissions less than 5% and require 32 nuclear reactor units of 1000 MW capacity built per year until 2050. According to Greenpeace, the slow construction times, construction delays, and hidden costs all negate nuclear power's mitigation potential. This makes the IEA scenario technically and financially unrealistic. They also argue that binding massive amounts of investments on nuclear energy would take funding away from more effective solutions. [78] Greenpeace views the construction of Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in Finland as an example of the problems on building new nuclear power. [95]

Anti-nuclear advertisement Edit

In 1994, Greenpeace published an anti-nuclear newspaper advert which included a claim that nuclear facilities Sellafield would kill 2,000 people in the next 10 years, and an image of a hydrocephalus-affected child said to be a victim of nuclear weapons testing in Kazakhstan. Advertising Standards Authority viewed the claim concerning Sellafield as unsubstantiated, lacking any scientific base. This resulted in the banning of the advert. Greenpeace did not admit fault, stating that a Kazakhstan doctor had said that the child's condition was due to nuclear testing even though no nuclear weapons testing is performed in Sellafield. [96]

EDF spying conviction and appeal Edit

In 2011, a French court fined Électricité de France (EDF) €1.5m and jailed two senior employees for spying on Greenpeace, including hacking into Greenpeace's computer systems. Greenpeace was awarded €500,000 in damages. [97] Although EDF claimed that a security firm had only been employed to monitor Greenpeace, the court disagreed, jailing the head and deputy head of EDF's nuclear security operation for three years each. EDF appealed the conviction, the company was cleared of conspiracy to spy on Greenpeace and the fine was cancelled. [98] Two employees of the security firm, Kargus, run by a former member of France's secret services, received sentences of three and two years respectively. [99]

Ozone layer and Greenfreeze Edit

The ozone layer surrounding the Earth absorbs significant amounts of ultraviolet radiation. A 1976 report by the US Academy of Sciences supported the ozone "depletion hypothesis". [100] Its suffering large losses from chlorinated and nitrogenous compounds was reported in 1985. [101] Earlier studies had led some countries to enact bans on aerosol sprays, so that the Vienna Convention was signed in 1985 [102] the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 to go in force two years later. [103] The use of CFCs and HCFCs in refrigeration were and are among the banned technologies. A German technological institute developed an ozone-safe hydrocarbon alternative refrigerant that came to a Greenpeace campaigner's attention around 1992. [104] [105] The rights to the technology were donated to Greenpeace, which maintained it as an open source patent. With industry resistance, Greenpeace was able to rescue and engage a former East German manufacturer near closure. Greenpeace's resourceful outreach and marketing resulted in the technology's rapid widespread production in Germany, followed by the banning of CFC technology. They then succeeded in getting Greenfreeze used in China and elsewhere in Europe, and after some years in Japan and South America, and finally in the US by 2012.

Greenpeace aims to protect intact primary forests from deforestation and degradation with the target of zero deforestation by 2020. Greenpeace has accused several corporations, such as Unilever, [106] Nike, [107] KFC, Kit Kat and McDonald's [108] of having links to the deforestation of the tropical rainforests, resulting in policy changes in several of the companies under criticism. [109] [110] [111] Greenpeace, together with other environmental NGOs, also campaigned for ten years for the EU to ban import of illegal timber. The EU decided to ban illegal timber in July 2010. [112] As deforestation contributes to global warming, Greenpeace has demanded that REDD (Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) should be included in the climate treaty following the Kyoto treaty. [113]

Another Greenpeace movement concerning the rain forests is discouraging palm oil industries. [114] The movement has been the most active in Indonesia where already 6 million hectares are used for palm oil plantation and has plans for another 4 million hectares by 2015. Acknowledging that mass production of palm oil may be disastrous on biodiversity of forests, Greenpeace is actively campaigning against the production, urging the industries and the government to turn to other forms of energy resources. One of the positive results of the campaign was GAR(Golden Agri-Resources), [115] the world's second largest palm oil production company, deciding to commit itself to forest conservation. The company signed an agreement which prevents them from developing plantations in areas where large amounts of carbon are locked up.

On the promotional side, an example of Greenpeace's success in the area is a viral video from 2016 protesting Nestlé's use of palm oil in Kit Kat bars. The video received over 1 million views, and resulted in a public statement by Nestlé claiming to no longer use such practices in their products. [116] In 2018, Greenpeace released an animated short starring a fictional orangutan named Rang-tan ahead of the World Orangutan Day. [117] In November 2018, UK's Clearcast have denied a version of Rang-tan video as submitted by Iceland Foods Ltd. [118]

Removal of an ancient tree Edit

In June 1995, Greenpeace took a trunk of a tree from the forests of the proposed national park of Koitajoki [119] in Ilomantsi, Finland and put it on display at exhibitions held in Austria and Germany. Greenpeace said in a press conference that the tree was originally from a logged area in the ancient forest which was supposed to be protected. Metsähallitus accused Greenpeace of theft and said that the tree was from a normal forest and had been left standing because of its old age. Metsähallitus also said that the tree had actually crashed over a road during a storm. [120] The incident received publicity in Finland, for example in the large newspapers Helsingin Sanomat and Ilta-Sanomat. [121] Greenpeace replied that the tree had fallen down because the protective forest around it had been clearcut, and that they wanted to highlight the fate of old forests in general, not the fate of one particular tree. [122] Greenpeace also highlighted that Metsähallitus admitted the value of the forest afterwards as Metsähallitus currently refers to Koitajoki as a distinctive area because of its old growth forests. [123] [124]

Wilmar International palm-oil issue Edit

25 June 2018 – After an investigation conducted by Greenpeace International, it has been revealed that Wilmar International (the world's largest palm-oil trader) is still linked to forest destruction in the Indonesian province of Papua. Gama's deforestation (a palm oil business run by senior Wilmar executives) has reached twice the size of Paris. Greenpeace is also calling Wilmar out for breaking the commitment to end deforestation policy signed by Wilmar in December 2013, where they promise to incorporate organic and sustainable ways to collect palm oil. [125]

Greenpeace's 2018 report asserted that Wilmar International is "the biggest and dirtiest palm oil trader in the world". [126]

Global head of Greenpeace on Southeast Asia, Kiki Taufik, argues that "Wilmar must immediately cut off all palm oil suppliers that can’t prove they aren’t destroying rainforests." He also added that "Wilmar has been trading Gama’s oil all over the world, including top brands like P&G, Nestlé and Unilever. Brands cannot let this deception pass unchallenged and have no choice but to suspend all business with Wilmar until it can prove it only trades clean palm oil from responsible producers." [127]

Until now, Wilmar's executives have only denied the accusation labeling them as "false" and are not taking any blame on them. The debate remains unsolved.

Resolute Forest Products issue Edit

The logging company Resolute Forest Products sued Greenpeace several times since 2013. In 2020, a court in California ordered Resolute to pay US$816,000 to Greenpeace to cover the costs of the legal process after the claims of the company were mostly rejected in one 2019 lawsuit. [128] Greenpeace claims that the activity of the company is hurting the Boreal forest of Canada. Greenpeace claims that Boreal Forests contain even more carbon than Tropical Forests and therefore are very important to protecting the global climate. [129]

In 2008, two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, stole a case of whale meat from a delivery depot in Aomori prefecture, Japan. Their intention was to expose what they considered embezzlement of the meat collected during whale hunts. After a brief investigation of their allegations was ended, Sato and Suzuki were charged with theft and trespassing. [130] Amnesty International said that the arrests and following raids on Greenpeace Japan office and homes of five of Greenpeace staff members were aimed at intimidating activists and non-governmental organizations. [131] They were convicted of theft and trespassing in September 2010 by the Aomori District Court. [132]

Greenpeace has also supported the rejection of GM food from the US in famine-stricken Zambia as long as supplies of non-genetically engineered grain exist, stating that the US "should follow in the European Union's footsteps and allow aid recipients to choose their food aid, buying it locally if they wish. This practice can stimulate developing economies and creates more robust food security", adding that, "if Africans truly have no other alternative, the controversial GE maize should be milled so it can't be planted. It was this condition that allowed Zambia's neighbours Zimbabwe and Malawi to accept it." [133] After Zambia banned all GM food aid, the former agricultural minister of Zambia criticized, "how the various international NGOs that have spoken approvingly of the government's action will square the body count with their various consciences." [134] Concerning the decision of Zambia, Greenpeace has stated that, "it was obvious to us that if no non-GM aid was being offered then they should absolutely accept GM food aid. But the Zambian government decided to refuse the GM food. We offered our opinion to the Zambian government and, as many governments do, they disregarded our advice." [135]

In 2007 Greenpeace funded research by Gilles-Éric Séralini into MON 863 genetically engineered maize which concluded it caused health issues to the rats used in the study. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and French Commission du Génie Biomoléculaire (AFBV) evaluation indicated serious methodological errors in the publication. [136] [137] Further research by Séralini on GMO resulted in widespread criticism of scientific fraud and retractions of his publications.

Also in 2007 Greenpeace similarly publicised results of Árpád Pusztai which were retracted too. [138]

Greenpeace on golden rice Edit

Greenpeace opposes the planned use of golden rice, a variety of Oryza sativa rice produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of pro-vitamin A in the edible parts of rice. The addition of beta-carotene to the rice is seen as preventive to loss of sight in poverty stricken countries where golden rice is intended for distribution. According to Greenpeace, golden rice has not managed to do anything about malnutrition for 10 years during which alternative methods are already tackling malnutrition. The alternative proposed by Greenpeace is to discourage monocropping and to increase production of crops which are naturally nutrient-rich (containing other nutrients not found in golden rice in addition to beta-carotene). Greenpeace argues that resources should be spent on programs that are already working and helping to relieve malnutrition. [139]

The renewal of these concerns coincided with the publication of a paper in the journal Nature about a version of golden rice with much higher levels of beta carotene. [140] This "golden rice 2" was developed and patented by Syngenta, which provoked Greenpeace to renew its allegation that the project is driven by profit motives and to serve as propaganda aimed at increasing public opinion of GMO products. [141] [142]

Although Greenpeace stated that the golden rice program's true efficiency in treating malnourished populations was its primary concern as early as 2001, [143] statements from March and April 2005 also continued to express concern over human health and environmental safety. [144] [145] In particular, Greenpeace has expressed concern over the lack of safety testing being done on GMO crops such as golden rice and of "playing with the lives of people. using Golden Rice to promote more GMOs". [141]

In June 2016, a conglomeration of 107 Nobel Laureates signed an open letter [17] urging Greenpeace to end its campaign against genetically modified crops and Golden Rice in particular. [146] [147] In the letter, they also called upon governments of the world to "do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology." The letter states that "Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped." [17] Greenpeace responded stating that "Accusations that anyone is blocking genetically engineered 'Golden' rice are false" and that they support ". investing in climate-resilient ecological agriculture and empowering farmers to access a balanced and nutritious diet, rather than pouring money down the drain for GE 'Golden' rice." [148]

In July 2011, Greenpeace released its Dirty Laundry report accusing some of the world's top fashion and sportswear brands of releasing toxic waste into China's rivers. [149] The report profiles the problem of water pollution resulting from the release of toxic chemicals associated with the country's textile industry. Investigations focused on wastewater discharges from two facilities in China one belonging to the Youngor Group located on the Yangtze River Delta and the other to Well Dyeing Factory Ltd. located on a tributary of the Pearl River Delta. Scientific analysis of samples from both facilities revealed the presence of hazardous and persistent hormone disruptor chemicals, including alkylphenols, perfluorinated compounds and perfluorooctane sulfonate.

The report goes on to assert that the Youngor Group and Well Dyeing Factory Ltd. - the two companies behind the facilities - have commercial relationships with a range of major clothing brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Bauer Hockey, Calvin Klein, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Lacoste, Li Ning, Metersbonwe Group, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen and Puma AG.

In 2013, Greenpeace launched the "Detox Fashion" campaign, which signed up some fashion brands to stop the discharge of toxic chemicals into rivers as a result of the production of their clothes. [150]

Guide to Greener Electronics Edit

In August 2006, Greenpeace released the first edition of Guide to Greener Electronics, a magazine where mobile and PC manufacturers were ranked for their green performance, mainly based on the use of toxic materials in their products and e-waste. [151] In November 2011, the criteria were updated, as the industry had progressed since 2006, with the objective to get companies to set goals for greenhouse gas reduction, the use of renewable power up to 100 percent, producing long-lasting products free of hazardous substances and increasing sustainable practices. To ensure the transparency of the ranking the companies are assessed based only on their public information. For proving companies' policies and practices, Greenpeace uses chemical testing of products, reports from industry observers, media reports and testing of consumer programs to check if they match with their actions. Since the Guide was released in 2006, along with other similar campaigns has driven numerous improvements, when companies ranked eliminate toxic chemicals from their products and improve their recycling schemes. The last published edition of Guide to Greener Electronics was in 2017. The 2017 version included 17 major IT companies and ranked them on three criteria: energy use, resource consumption and chemical elimination. [152]

In continuity of the successful campaign to reach the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, in 2012 and 2013 protests with "Save the Arctic" banners were started. To stop oil- and gas-drilling, industrial fishing and military operations in the Arctic region completely, a "global sanctuary in the high arctic" was demanded from the World leaders at the UN General Assembly: "We want them to pass a UN resolution expressing international concern for the Arctic." A resolution to protect the very vulnerable wildlife and ecosystem. [153] 30 activists from MV Arctic Sunrise were arrested on 19 September 2013 by the Russian Coast Guard while protesting at Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya platform. [154] Greenpeace members were originally charged with piracy, then later downgraded to hooliganism, before being dropped altogether following the passage of an amnesty law by the Russian government. [155]

In July 2014, Greenpeace launched a global boycott campaign to persuade Lego to cease producing toys carrying the oil company Shell's logo in response to Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. [156] Lego's partnership with Shell dates back to the 1960s, although the LEGO company created a fictional oil company called Octan. Octan has appeared in countless sets, computer and console games, can be seen at Legoland parks, and is featured as the corporation headed by the villain President Business in The Lego Movie. [157]

Norway Edit

There is a conflict over oil rigs in the Arctic Ocean between the Norwegian Government and Greenpeace. In 2013, three activists of Greenpeace got on a Statoil's oil rig, wearing bear suits. According to a spokesman from Greenpeace Russia, they stayed on the rig for about three hours. The activists in bear suits "were escorted" to the shore. Statoil reportedly did not intend to file a suit against them. [158]

Greenpeace had argued that Statoil's drilling plans posed a threat to Bear Island, an uninhabited wildlife sanctuary that is home to rare species including polar bears, because an oil spill would be nearly impossible to clean up in the Arctic because of the harsh conditions. [159] Greenpeace regards the petroleum activities of Statoil as "illegal". [160] Statoil denies the Greenpeace statement. According to The Maritime Executive (2014), [161] Statoil says "Statoil respects people's right to make a legal protest, and we feel it is important to have a democratic debate around the oil industry. We have established robust plans for the operation, and feel confident they can be carried out safely and without accidents."

On 27 May 2014, Greenpeace's ship, MV Esperanza, took over Transocean Spitsbergen, oil rig of Statoil [162] in the Barents Sea such that it became incapable of operating. After that, the manager of Greenpeace Norway Truls Gulowsen answered a phone interview, stating that "Five protesters left the rig by helicopter last night and three returned to a nearby Greenpeace ship." [163] There were seven more protesters on the rig at the time, but the Norwegian police could not remove them immediately because the rig was a flag of convenience ship registered in the Marshall Islands and thus regarded as a ship in the open sea, as long as it did not begin drilling. On 29 May, however, the seven activists from Greenpeace were peacefully captured by Norwegian police on the rig. Soon after, according to Reuters, all the activists were set free without any fine. On 30 May, the Norwegian Coast Guard finally towed away Esperanza, though in the morning Greenpeace submitted a plea on which more than 80,000 signatures to the Norwegian Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft in Oslo were written. Norwegian government and police reportedly allowed the coast guard to tow the Greenpeace ship. [164]

The Norwegian police stated that Statoil asked Greenpeace to stop preventing its activities, but Greenpeace ignored the warning. The police have stated that Greenpeace's interference with the petroleum activities of Statoil was the contrary to Norwegian law and ordered Greenpeace to leave the Barents Sea site. [160] Statoil said delays to the start of drilling cost the company about $1.26 million per day. [164]

According to Reuters, Statoil was slated to begin drilling "three oil wells in the Apollo, Atlantis and Mercury prospects in the Hoop area, [which is] some 300 km away from the mainland [of Norway]" in the summer of 2014. Greenpeace has continued to criticize the big oil company for their "green wash," arguing that Statoil hid the truth that it is doing the risky oil drilling by holding "Lego League" with Lego and distracting people's attention to the company's project, and it also argues that Statoil has to alter its attitude toward environments. [165]

Since Greenpeace was founded, seagoing ships have played a vital role in its campaigns. Greenpeace has chartered additional ships as needed. At least one non-Greenpeace owned ship was used during the organization's 2008-11 campaign to disrupt trawling in the North Sea by placing large boulders on the seafloor and then providing local authorities with updated charts of where the boulders were placed. All ships are equipped with marine diesel engines.

In service Edit

  • Rainbow Warrior is the third vessel to bear the name. Launched in 2011, it is sometimes referred to as Rainbow Warrior III. [166]

Previously in service Edit

First Rainbow Warrior Edit

In 1978, Greenpeace launched the original Rainbow Warrior, a 40-metre (130 ft), former fishing trawler named after the book Warriors of the Rainbow, which inspired early activist Robert Hunter on the first voyage to Amchitka. Greenpeace purchased the Rainbow Warrior (originally launched as the Sir William Hardy in 1955) at a cost of £40,000. Volunteers restored and refitted it over a period of four months. First deployed to disrupt the hunt of the Icelandic whaling fleet, the Rainbow Warrior quickly became a mainstay of Greenpeace campaigns. Between 1978 and 1985, crew members also engaged in direct action against the ocean-dumping of toxic and radioactive waste, the grey seal hunt in Orkney and nuclear testing in the Pacific. In May 1985, the vessel was instrumental for 'Operation Exodus', the evacuation of about 300 Rongelap Atoll islanders whose home had been contaminated with nuclear fallout from a US nuclear test two decades earlier which had never been cleaned up and was still having severe health effects on the locals. [167]

Later in 1985 the Rainbow Warrior was to lead a flotilla of protest vessels into the waters surrounding Moruroa atoll, site of French nuclear testing. The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior occurred when the French government secretly bombed the ship in Auckland harbour on orders from François Mitterrand himself. This killed Dutch freelance photographer Fernando Pereira, who thought it was safe to enter the boat to get his photographic material after a first small explosion, but drowned as a result of a second, larger explosion. [168] The attack was a public relations disaster for France after it was quickly exposed by the New Zealand police. The French Government in 1987 agreed to pay New Zealand compensation of NZ$13 million and formally apologised for the bombing. The French Government also paid ₣2.3 million compensation to the family of the photographer. Later, in 2001, when the Institute of Cetacean Research of Japan called Greenpeace "eco-terrorists", Gert Leipold, then Executive Director of Greenpeace, detested the claim, saying "calling non-violent protest terrorism insults those who were injured or killed in the attacks of real terrorists, including Fernando Pereira, killed by State terrorism in the 1985 attack on the Rainbow Warrior". [169]

Second Rainbow Warrior Edit

In 1989 Greenpeace commissioned a replacement Rainbow Warrior vessel, sometimes referred to as Rainbow Warrior II. It retired from service on 16 August 2011, to be replaced by the third generation vessel. In 2005 the Rainbow Warrior II ran aground on and damaged the Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines while inspecting the reef for coral bleaching. Greenpeace was fined US$7,000 for damaging the reef and agreed to pay the fine saying they felt responsible for the damage, although Greenpeace stated that the Philippines government had given it outdated charts. The park manager of Tubbataha appreciated the quick action Greenpeace took to assess the damage to the reef. [170]

Others Edit

Lawsuits have been filed against Greenpeace for lost profits, [171] reputation damage [172] and "sailormongering". [173] In 2004 it was revealed that the Australian government was willing to offer a subsidy to Southern Pacific Petroleum on the condition that the oil company would take legal action against Greenpeace, which had campaigned against the Stuart Oil Shale Project. [174]

Some corporations, such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Électricité de France have reacted to Greenpeace campaigns by spying on Greenpeace activities and infiltrating Greenpeace offices. [175] [176] Greenpeace activists have also been targets of phone tapping, death threats, violence [37] and even state terrorism in the case of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. [177] [178]

Patrick Moore, an early Greenpeace member, left the organization in 1986 when it, according to Moore, decided to support a universal ban on chlorine [179] in drinking water. [180] Moore has argued that Greenpeace today is motivated by politics rather than science and that none of his "fellow directors had any formal science education". [180] Bruce Cox, Director of Greenpeace Canada, responded that Greenpeace has never demanded a universal chlorine ban and that Greenpeace does not oppose use of chlorine in drinking water or in pharmaceutical uses, adding that "Mr. Moore is alone in his recollection of a fight over chlorine and/or use of science as his reason for leaving Greenpeace." [181] Paul Watson, an early member of Greenpeace has said that Moore "uses his status as a so-called co-founder of Greenpeace to give credibility to his accusations. I am also a co-founder of Greenpeace and I have known Patrick Moore for 35 years.[. ] Moore makes accusations that have no basis in fact". [182] More recently, Moore has been particularly critical of Greenpeace's stance on golden rice, an issue where Moore has been joined by other environmentalists such as Mark Lynas, [183] claiming that Greenpeace has "waged a campaign of misinformation, trashed the scientists who are working to bring Golden Rice to the people who need it, and supported the violent destruction of Golden Rice field trials." [184]

Patrick Moore also reversed his position on nuclear power in 1976, [185] first opposing it and now supporting it. [186] [187] [188] In Australian newspaper The Age, he writes "Greenpeace is wrong—we must consider nuclear power". [189] He argues that any realistic plan to reduce reliance on fossil fuels or greenhouse gas emissions need increased use of nuclear energy. [186] Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace US responded that nuclear energy is too risky, takes too long to build to address climate change, and claims that most countries, including the U.S., could shift to nearly 100% renewable energy while phasing out nuclear power by 2050. [190] [191]

A French journalist under the pen name Olivier Vermont wrote in his book La Face cachée de Greenpeace ("The Hidden Face of Greenpeace") that he had joined Greenpeace France and had worked there as a secretary. According to Vermont he found misconduct, and continued to find it, from Amsterdam to the International office. Vermont said he found classified documents [192] according to which half of the organization's €180 million revenue was used for the organization's salaries and structure. He also accused Greenpeace of having unofficial agreements with polluting companies where the companies paid Greenpeace to keep them from attacking the company's image. [193] Animal protection magazine Animal People reported in March 1997 that Greenpeace France and Greenpeace International had sued Olivier Vermont and his publisher Albin Michel for issuing "defamatory statements, untruths, distortions of the facts and absurd allegations". [194]

Brent Spar tanker Edit

Research published in natural science journal Nature accused Greenpeace of not caring for facts when it criticized the dumping of the Brent Spar tanker, and accused the group of exaggerating the volume of oil that was stored in the tanker. [195] Greenpeace had claimed that the tanker contained 5,500 tonnes of crude oil, while Shell estimated it only contained 50 tonnes. [196] However, the measurements had been made under duress during a protest occupation of the platform, since Shell had refused permission, and Greenpeace activists had been under attack by water cannons and the like. [197] [198] The BBC issued an apology to Greenpeace for having reported that the NGO lied. [199]

Shell UK took three years to evaluate the disposal options, concluding that the disposal of the tanker in the deep ocean was the "Best Practicable Environmental Option" (BPEO), an option which gained some support within some portion of the scientific community, as it was found by some to be of "negligible" environmental impact. [196] British government and Oslo and Paris Commissions (OSPAR) accepted the solution. [196]

The resulting NGO campaign against Shell's proposals included letters, boycotts which even escalated to vandalism in Germany, and lobbying at intergovernmental conferences. Binding moratoriums supporting Greenpeace's, ecosystem protection, and the precautionary principle position were issued in more than one intergovernmental meeting, and at the 1998 OSPAR Convention, WWF presented a study of toxic effects on deep sea ecosystems. The meeting confirmed a general prohibition on ocean dumping. [200] Shell had transported the rig to the dumping site, but in the last hours canceled the operation and announced that it had failed in communicating its plans sufficiently to the public, admitting they had underestimated the strength of public opinion. [196] In January, 1998, Shell issued a new BPEO indicating recycling the rig as a quay in Norway. [201]

In 1999, the Brent Spar container was decommissioned and one side issue that emerged was that the legs of the structure were found to contain cold-water coral species (Lophelia pertusa). As a result, the possibility was suggested of keeping the legs of such platforms on the sea bed in future, to serve as habitat. [196] [202] [203] A Greenpeace representative opposed the suggestion, citing the fact that the reefs formed by the coral are at risk, not the coral itself, and that such a move would not promote development of such reefs, and expose coral species to toxic substances found in oil. [204]

Pascal Husting commute Edit

In 2013 reports noted that Pascal Husting, the director of Greenpeace International's "international programme" was commuting 400 km (250 miles) to work by plane, despite Greenpeace's activism to reduce air travel due to carbon footprint. [205] [206] Greenpeace has said "the growth in aviation is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change". [207] After a "public uproar" Greenpeace announced that Husting would commute by train. [208] [209]

Nazca Lines Edit

In December 2014, Greenpeace activists damaged rock related to the Nazca Lines in Peru while setting up a banner within the lines of one of the famed geoglyphs, and there were concerns that the harm might be irreparable. The activists damaged an area around the hummingbird by walking near the glyph without regulation footwear. Access to the area around the lines is strictly prohibited and [22] [210] special shoes must be worn to avoid damaging the UN World Heritage site. Greenpeace claimed the activists were "absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines," [211] but this is contradicted by video and photographs showing the activists wearing conventional shoes (not special protective shoes) while walking on the site. [212] [213] Greenpeace has apologized to the Peruvian people, [214] but Loise Jamie Castillo, Peru's Vice Minister of Cultural Heritage called the apology "a joke", because Greenpeace refused to identify the vandals or accept responsibility. [215] Culture Minister Diana Álvarez-Calderón said that evidence gathered during an investigation by the government will be used as part of a legal suit against Greenpeace. "The damage done is irreparable and the apologies offered by the environmental group aren't enough," she said at a news conference. [22] By January, 2015, Greenpeace had presented statements of four members of the NGO involved in the action. [216]

Anti-whaling campaign in Norway in the 1990s Edit

During the 1990s Greenpeace conducted many anti-whaling expeditions in Norway. The criticism was that Greenpeace only campaigned against whaling to gain economic donations from the US economy, and it had little to do with saving the environment. For example, shark hunting is a more pressing issue, but since sharks are widely feared in the United States, activism to help sharks does not receive as much financial support. Greenpeace has rejected this claim. However, in Norwegian Newspaper Dagbladet on 11 April 2015 Kumi Naidoo admitted that the anti-whale campaign was a "miscalculation". [217] Greenpeace holds that whaling was only resumed by Norway after the IWC ban because of political election motives, and faces many explicit hurdles, including decreased demand in Japan and toxic chemical contamination. [218]

Open letter from Nobel laureates Edit

In June 2016, 107 Nobel laureates signed an open letter [17] urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [219] The letter stated: "We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against "GMOs" in general and Golden Rice in particular. Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity." The Nobel laureates also called upon governments of the world to "do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology." The letter goes on to say that "Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped." [17] Greenpeace responded stating that "Accusations that anyone is blocking genetically engineered 'Golden' rice are false" and that they support "[. ] investing in climate-resilient ecological agriculture and empowering farmers to access a balanced and nutritious diet, rather than pouring money down the drain for GE 'Golden' rice." [148]

Efforts to curb Arctic Oil Exploration Edit

In December 2020, Norway’s Supreme Court refused to interfere in the work of ongoing oil exploration endeavors which was challenged jointly by Greenpeace and Nature and Youth Norway on the ground that the activity related to oil explorations violate human rights due to its contributing aspect towards carbon emission. The ruling said that the permission granted during 2016 will remain valid as it was not found to violate either 'Norwegian Constitution’s right' or 'European Convention on Human Rights'. Greta Thunberg reportedly contributed $29,000 as the lawsuit cost on behalf of the plaintiff Greenpeace and Nature and Youth Norway. [220] [221] [222]

Vandalism of an aircraft Edit

In March 2021, nine Greenpeace activists got inside Charles de Gaulle Airport by scaling a fence at the edge of the tarmac and vandalized on one side of an Air France Boeing 777 with an extendable paint roller. They claimed that was to raise awareness on “greenwashing” of climate change and environmental regulation, [223] and as a commentary on a climate bill debate in the French Parliament. Despite warnings from security officers, they refused to surrender. They were later arrested, and sparked security concerns about the airport. The National Airline Pilots Union (SNPL) denounced the act, saying that it is a costly damage, and went against the claims of the activists. [224]

There is a Greenpeace Canada fonds at Library and Archives Canada. [225] Archival reference number is R4377.

Reiche’s Theory of the Lines

Reiche theorized that those who conceived of the Lines used them as an astronomical calendar which she outlined in her book The Mystery of the Pampas (1949). This theory is not widely accepted today, and most experts believe that the lines were used as paths that were traversed during ceremonies. However, Maria Reiche was responsible for comprehensively mapping a great deal of the Lines.

Maria Reiche, Wax statue in the Museum dedicated to her near Nazca, Peru. ( CC BY 3.0 )

Clearly a forceful personality, she was able to persuade or cajole the Peruvian Air Force to help in the systematic mapping of the historic area. In her lifetime, Reiche established that the figures included 18 different animals and birds and hundreds of geometric shapes and patterns. However, more were yet to be found , and surely more remain obscured by the elements to this day.

The rediscovered orca geoglyph lies on a desert hillside in the remote Palpa region of southern Peru. (Image: Johny Isla)

This woman was devoted to the Lines and acted as their unofficial guardian for many years even into her old age. She was very aware of how vulnerable the Lines were, and she defended them from intruders and vehicles, armed only with a household broom. Reiche was so committed that she would often camp out alone in the desert to protect the Lines. Such protection was indeed warranted, as is evidenced by the Greenpeace invasion of the hummingbird site in 2014 and the damage caused earlier this year by a truckdriver plowing his vehicle into one of the protected sites. The Peruvian government restricts visitors to Nazca in an attempt to protect the lines.

Image shows the level of damage caused by the truck driving into the protected archaeological site. (Image: Peruvian Ministry of Culture)

The insightful lady was also active in fundraising for the preservation of the Nazca Lines at a time when their importance was not generally accepted.

Nazca lines Aliens

A Peruvian archaeologist named Toribio Mejia Xesspe started methodical research of the Nazca lines in 1926 however, the geoglyphs only grabbed the attention when pilots flew over the Nazca lines in1930.

Experts are arguing over the purpose of these lines ever since. Paul K osok , an American historian in the late 1930s and early 1940s, studied the geoglyphs from the air and ground both.

Based on the comparative position of one of the lines he examined the sun around the winter solstice, he determined that the geoglyphs are connected with astronomy.

A German archaeologist & translator, Maria Reiche, concluded that the figures had a calendric and astronomical purpose.

She believed that the animal geoglyphs were illustrative of a group of stars in the sky.

However, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, American astronomer Gerald Hawkins alongside other researchers, disagree with the astronomical explanation upon studying the Nazca lines.

They also targeted other unconventional interpretations, such as those involving astronauts or aliens.

The Ancient Nazca Culture

Geographical location of the Nazca culture

The Nazca society developed in one of the most difficult zones of Peruvian territory with a subtropical climate, arid with deserts which surround the small valleys of the department of Ica, like the Rio Grande, Ica, Pisco these rivers dry up in summer and increase their water level in winter, which determines the geographical landscape which the Nazca population inhabited. From these zones they expanded to the Chincha Valley, in the North and to the Acari Valley (Arequipa), in the South.

Origin and decline of the Nazca

Archaeology has divided the history of the Nazca culture into four stages:

  • Early Nazca: the first Nazca communities which developed in the basin of the Rio Grande appear.
  • Middle Nazca: a proper culture takes shape, under the influence of the Paracas Necropolis culture the ceremonial center of Cahuachi is built.
  • Late Nazca: Cahuachi is abandoned, its population spreads, creating new religious centers, the center at La Estaqueria stands out.
  • Final Nazca: the decline of the Nazca society begins around 600 A.D., its exact causes being unknown, it is believed that a mix of climatic reverses could have caused the relapse in agricultural activity, or that other warlike peoples may have exterminated them.

Political and social organization

The Nazca society was divided hierarchically into social classes. Being a State of the theocratic militaristic type, power was concentrated in the priests and the military leaders who in general were the landowners. This elite had the capacity to organize community work and direct ceremonial activities, they lived in pyramidal buildings, in special sectors whose rooms were made with adobe and walls covered with a layer of gypsum or lime to fill the cracks.

At the service of this leadership were the qualified artisans (ceramists, architects, weavers, astrologists, musicians, soldiers) who lived in small cities and ceremonial centers among which the complex ceremonial center of Cahuachi stands out. At the base of the society were the farmers and fishers. The farmers occupied the fertile valleys, lived in thatched-roof huts situated outside of the cultivated surface, and grouped together in villages around an adobe pyramid which acted as a religious temple.

The Nazca society did not have a unified government, rather it was a group of individual manors. These manors had their own authority who was generally a priest, and they occupied the valleys, in whose extremes were found the settlements, as the rest of the territory along the length of each river was dedicated solely to agriculture. It is generally accepted that the expansion of the Nazca culture was of a military, violent type, primarily because of the existence of fortified cities in the Nazca area, plenty of weapons found in tombs, and the custom of the trophy heads which adorn a great part of their artistic expressions.

Nazca Economy

The Nazca economy was fundamentally based on agriculture, its principal crops being corn, beans, pumpkin, squash, yucca, guava, peanuts, peppers and cotton. Fishing in the sea and shellfishing were of great importance for the inhabitants of the coast who through barter exchanged their products in order to complement their nutritional diet. Hunting was another activity which helped in the Nazca economy.

Trade had vital importance because in this way they could satisfy the necessities of the population often affected by long droughts. They maintained a continuous exchange with the Huarpa culture, who traded products like potatoes and wool in exchange for fish, cotton, and ceramics (craftwork) from the Nazca culture.

They also stood out for their knowledge and use of hydrological resources, especially subterranean ones, which thanks to ingenious projects they utilized for irrigation. Among their principal aqueducts are those of Ocaña, Matara, Aja, Curve, and the Achirana, among others. The underground passages constructed to take advantage of the water tables, in the area where the rivers run underneath the surface receive the name of springs and apparently were the basis of agricultural irrigation for the Nazca inhabitants. Their hydraulic intervention by means of aqueducts, canals, and wells served to provide water for the fields called irrigation canals, proof of which is the construction of the Cantalloc aqueducts and the springs.

Nazca Rituals

The Nazca civilization carried out rituals to their gods of the sea, the sky, the earth, fire, water, and the wind. They carried out their constructions for their gods, with the purpose of avoiding droughts. Their religion also had much to do with the mystery of the Nazca Lines, which are considered by some as a place for numerous rituals offered to their gods.

The funerary burials typical of the Nazca are in general individual, inside a shallow pit. The hierarchy of the deceased could be established by the complexity of the lining of the chamber and the number of objects which accompanied it (vessels, blankets, plumes, hats, bouquets, etc.). The mummy was placed in a fetal position, wrapped in layers of blankets until it formed a bundle, similar to that of the Paracas. Some bundles include the so-called “false head,” a small bulge in the upper part, which simulates a head. The tombs of the men and women of the people are not luxurious, this was a distinct fortune of the nobility.

The mummification of heads was a custom propagated among the Nazca, possibly those of defeated warriors. It was thought that the greater number of heads a warrior possessed, the greater prestige, power and authority he would have. These rites have their origin in the Chavín and Paracas cultures. To make a trophy head, they took out the brain from the base of the skull, then sewed the mouth of the head and made a small hole in the forehead, where they placed a cord to hang them by. The exact purpose of the trophy heads is dim, the most considered has been that the conquering warrior had the right to cut off the head of the defeated enemy and make it into a trophy which he always carried with him. However, the discovery of heads of women and children which are not associated with warrior passages has made it be thought that they may also have been practices linked to the fertility cult.

Chauchilla Cemetery: It is a necropolis from the Pre-Inca era situated some 30 km from the city of Nazca, Peru. Some relate it to the Huari Culture and others to the Nazca Culture which flourished in the area. The mummies are in a good state of conservation in spite of their age and in many of them remains of hair and even some of skin can be seen. This conservation has been possible in part thanks to the arid climate of the Nazca desert in which the cemetery is set.

Artistic expressions of the Nazca

Considered as successors of the Paracas civilization, they stood out for their pictorial, ceramic, and textile creativity. However, it is the famous Nazca Lines which make up their most transcendental legacy. Made up in their entirety by more than 30 drawings of enormous dimensions, they faithfully reproduce zoomorphic, phytomorphic, and geometric figures, among which the hummingbird, the spider, and the monkey stand out. The techniques of tracing employed, which allowed them to continue their lines through hills and ravines without straying from their direction, still surprise the most eminent specialists.


The Nazca ceramics reproduced figures of animals, plants, as well as men and women carrying out everyday activities. In general, they were decorated with mineral paints, carefully ground and mixed with water or sap from local plants. In ceramic productions, figures of mutilated men also stand out, which makes one suppose that they carried out human sacrifices.

The Nazca ceramic is considered to be the best achieved in ancient Peru, for its high quality and variety. Over their ceramics, they painted and decorated the whole surface without leaving blank spaces because of which it is said that they had a “fear of emptiness.” The most typical form of their vessels is the globular jug with two beaks or spillways and an arched handle, they also made spherical pots, mugs, and glasses.

The decoration of their ceramics stands out for its polychromatic nature and its complexity as they used up to eleven gradations of color in only one piece, and they managed some 190 different shades. The motifs are different and can be classified as naturalist, when they draw the environment mythical or religious, when they show representations of their gods and geometric, when they use circles, semicircles, rhombuses, lines, spirals, steps, etc.


The Nazca architects employed wood, adobe, and the bark itself from the trees to construct their dwellings and ceremonial centers. Using earth kneaded with water they made adobes to construct sanctuaries for the nobility in the shape of a truncated pyramid the cities of Tinguiña and Cahuachi are an example of this. These last two are displays of urban planning the first constitutes the best architectural expression the second was considered to be the capital of the Nazca. In the outskirts of Cahuachi is found the Estaqueria, originally made up of 240 mesquite posts, distributed in 12 rows of 20 stakes in each one, over an artificial platform. Each stake is separated from the next by two meters and they appear to be columns which supported a roof, although its purpose is unknown. Other Nazca urban centers were Tambo Viejo, Huaca del Loro, and Pampa de Tinguiña.


They manipulated gold and silver to make masks, ear flaps, nose rings, and other ritual objects, adorned by means of embossing, as they were laminate. These objects were for ceremonial or religious uses.


To produce fabrics, they utilized cotton and wool from camelids, mastering the techniques of brocading, tapestry, muslin, painted cloth, tridimensional weaving, and embroidery. Over the flat cotton cloth, they embroidered with wool from camelids dyed with varied colors. The Nazca were heirs of the Topará culture (Paracas Necropolis) in that which is related to the production of extremely refined blankets of cloths, although they did not achieve the same quality and magnificence in the end products.


Musical instruments have been found in the tombs of the Nazca, made of ceramic, they are flutes, trumpets, bass drums, and drums. All these are decorated artistically, many times with anthropomorphic figures, like heads of people, or of animals. The finding of ceramic flutes surpasses all the musical instruments of Pre-Columbian America these Nazca flutes have 8, 9, 10, and even 11 different notes. They use chromatic scales, which have been used in the present by musicologists to create musical works like the symphony “Las Pampas de Nazca” and the “Danza Nazca” among others.

The Nazca Lines

Appreciable in all their dimensions and form only by flying above the area at high altitude, the lines combine extensive and smooth routes in which circular holes of great depth can be made out. The Nazca made them by following a model constructed on a small scale. Later, over the ground, they traced the lines with stakes joined by cords. The cultural importance of these creations was established by the UNESCO in 1990 when it declared the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca and Pampas de Jumana a World Heritage Site.

The Nazca Lines are the most known artistic expressions of the Nazca. They are composed of large designs drawn in the plains of the desert to the north of the settlement of Cahuachi. There were more than 350 of these drawings which can be: anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and phytomorphic figures, in addition to geometric lines several kilometers in length. They were all drawn and created with a precision by which even today the world continues to be impressed.

Some 450 km to the south of Lima and near the Pacific Ocean are found the pampas of Ingenio, Nazca, Palpa, and Socos. Between Palpa and Nazca, in the pampa of Socos, these lines are located, traced on the ground, whose width varies between 40 and 210 centimeters. A semicircle of hills in the distance makes up a gigantic natural amphitheater open towards the West.

Maria Reiche Neuman (1903-1998), from Germany, was considered to be one of the greatest specialists in this culture. After 40 years in the area, she held that the lines were points of astronomical observation useful for agriculture.

Antonini Archaeological Museum

Located in the Peruvian city of Nazca, it exhibits the archaeological heritage of the Nazca area, coming from the works of research carried out by the “Nazca Project” in the ceremonial center of Cahuachi and other important sites in the Nazca River Valley. The Antonini Museum is dedicated to the conservation and study of this heritage. There, one can learn in a very didactic way about the evolution of the Nazca culture, as well as appreciate magnificent ceramics, fabrics, mummies, trophy heads, and many other extraordinary remains of this culture.


On November 12, 1996, at 11:59 a.m. local time (16:59 GMT) there was an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 with its epicenter at 7.7 km into the sea. The earthquake almost completely destroyed the city of Nazca and its surroundings. Due to its occurrence during the day, there were only 14 fatalities. However, 1,500 people were injured and around 100,000 were left homeless. Within 12 years Nazca has been almost completely rebuilt.

Since 1997, Nazca has been the location of a major Canadian gold mining operation. The indigenous people at the time did not own the rights to their traditional communal lands. As a result, they were forcibly displaced. Since then, they have sought to legalize their ancient ownership of land and fixed property.

Nazca is one of the most arid regions in the world, with an average annual precipitation of 4 millimeters. Nazca's weather is controlled by the Humboldt Current, which carries water from Antarctica up the west coast of South America.

This cold ocean water cools the air and limits the accumulation of moisture within clouds as a result, though clouds and fog are able to form, there is little rain.

Nazca's temperatures range from 10 to 32 °C with an average daily high of 21 °C. Summer months from November to March are dry, sunny, and hot. During the winter from June to August, fog from the coast rolls over the hills to keep temperatures in the moderate range however, the intense sun makes daylight hours seem hotter than they are. [2]

Climate data for Nazca
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.8
Average low °C (°F) 17.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 0.7
Source: SENAMHI [3]

There are two versions of the Spanish foundation. According to the writings of chroniclers, the city was founded on October 28, 1548, commissioned by Pedro de la Gasca, peacemaker by Alonso de Mendoza. The other version states that it was founded in 1591 by the Viceroy García Hurtado de Mendoza, 5th Marquis of Cañete.

During the Spanish colonial period, Nazca was known for viticulture, producing wine and grape brandy (aguardiente de la uva). Today this is commonly called pisco, after the famous port of the same name. Locally, the brandy is known as Nasca. These products were widely distributed throughout the viceroyalty of Peru and beyond. [4] [ page needed ]

The largest of the Nazca vineyards were located in the rich Ingenio Valley, and were property of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit missionaries and priests. [5] The hacienda San Joseph de la Nasca, located in the upper part of the middle Ingenio Valley, was owned by the Jesuit College of Cuzco. San Francisco Xavier de la Nasca, in the lower part of the middle valley, was owned by the Jesuit College of San Pablo in Lima. Both of these estates used numerous workers who were enslaved persons of sub-Saharan African descent. In addition to producing wines and brandies, both estates had substantial infrastructure for producing the ceramic storage jars, known as botijas, in which the wine and brandy was transported. [6]

Today, the towns of San Javier and San José are known for the ruins of the large 18th-century baroque churches built during the Jesuit administration of these estates. In 1767, following the expulsion of the Society of Jesus by King Charles III of Spain, the Crown confiscated and administered these properties as royal estates. [4] [ page needed ]

Nazca Patriots received the Liberating Expedition of General Don Jose de San Martin on October 14, 1820, after they escaped from the Battle of Nasca. Two days earlier, on October 12, General Juan Antonio Álvarez de Arenales, from Ica, was sent to the South in pursuit of the royal troops of Colonel Manuel Quimper fleeing from Ica. The second commander and chief of staff of the Division de la Sierra, was Argentine Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Rojas Argerich. He commanded 250 men: 110 infantry and 140 cavalry.

The town of Nasca was established on August 29, 1821. On July 2, 1855, it was elevated to a district and then it became a province on January 23, 1941.

Nasca, as the name is spelled in the 21st century, still has a dry climate. Before and during the time of the Inca, it had a formidable system of hydraulic engineering. The water was accessed through filtration galleries from underground branches, called aqueducts. The openings to the system were called puquios. More than three dozen continue to operate, to irrigate farmland and provide domestic needs.


The Nasca are known for their elaborate textile and ceramic art, including an elaborate mortuary ritual associated with warfare and the taking of trophy heads. More than 150 trophy heads have been identified at Nazca sites, and there are examples of burials of headless bodies, and burials of grave goods without human remains.

Gold metallurgy in early Nasca times is comparable to Paracas culture: consisting of low-tech cold-hammered art objects. Some slag sites from copper smelting and other evidence suggest that by the late phase (Late Intermediate Period) the Nasca increased their technological knowledge.

The Nasca region is an arid one, and the Nazca developed a sophisticated irrigation system that aided in their survival for so many centuries.

Nasca Art: Sacred Linearity and Bold Designs

The Nasca (also spelled Nazca) civilization flourished from 100–800 C.E. in the Nasca Desert of Peru’s south coast, located about 200 miles south of Paracas. The Nasca lived in dispersed settlements along the Nasca River, and the site of Cahuachi served as their main ritual and pilgrimage center. The flat desert terrain proved to be a favorable canvas for Nasca artists, which they utilized to create artworks of unprecedented grandeur, size, and sophistication.

Geometric Nasca lines (photo: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Nasca Lines

The Nasca Lines are geoglyphs consisting of lines and representational images etched onto the desert floor. The lines cannot be viewed in their entirety from the ground, and are best seen either from the surrounding foothills or by plane. The Nasca Lines have garnered the attention of archaeologists, art historians, explorers, journalists, and artists, inspiring a slew of interpretations over the course of nearly a century.

Nasca line monkey (photo: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0)

While scholars remain divided on the precise meaning of the lines, all can agree that they were not made by aliens, as the popular show Ancient Aliens would like people to believe. One of the most convincing interpretations put forth by archaeologist Anthony Aveni and his colleagues argues that the Nasca lines traced important underground water sources. The vast majority of the Nasca lines are just that—straight lines, which run parallel, converge, and intersect with one another. In an excessively dry desert climate that receives less than one inch of rainfall per year, access to fresh water would have been a central concern for ancient Nasca peoples.

Hummingbird Nasca line (photo: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Nasca landscape also contains a series of representational images of a monkey, whale, condor, spider, dog, heron, and others. One of the most iconic images is that of the Nasca Line Hummingbird, which features a stylized rendition of this miniscule bird, measuring over 300 feet long. The hummingbird is rendered in bird’s-eye view with outstretched wings, tail, and long characteristic beak that extends to another set of lines.

While the lines seem impossible to create without the use of modern technology, archaeologists discovered that the lines are indeed reproducible with a large labor force and a system of measurement that employs a set of strings or ropes of different lengths. One striking feature of all the figural Nasca lines is they are contour drawings—the lines never cross each other. If one traversed the lines of the hummingbird, for instance, he or she would return full circle to the starting point. This suggests that the animal figures could have each served as special pilgrimage routes. Indeed, the existence of pottery fragments and food remains along the lines indicate frequent human visitation.

Figure with Human Heads, 450-650 C.E., ceramic (Dallas Museum of Art)

Nasca ceramics

Nasca vessel in the form of an achira root, 180 B.C.E. – 500 C.E. (The Art Institute of Chicago)

Nasca ceramic art also exhibits a strong interest in bold design. The Figure with Human Heads consists of a person gendered as male, either standing or seated, with his arms at his sides. His nose is modeled in three dimensions, but the rest of his facial features are painted, and his body is rendered as the general form of the vessel. He wears a headcloth over his hair, held in place with a criss-crossed band, and a tunic that features a design consisting of black and white stepped motifs arranged into repeating squares. Beneath this pattern is a border decorated in a repeating rhythm of highly abstracted heads seen in profile. The closed eyes and loose hair indicate that they are ritual heads, associated with fertility in Nasca art. (While sometimes referred to as “trophy heads,” archaeologists have found increasing evidence that heads were curated by the Nasca as part of ancestor veneration, and that they were usually not associated with warfare). The use of the monochromatic scheme in the man’s tunic intensifies the design’s visual impact, and is similar to the pattern seen in a vessel depicting an achira (a root vegetable).

Nasca textile bag with abstract design, perhaps serpents, 7th century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Nasca were interested in issues of design and abstraction centuries before the rise of abstract art in the twentieth century. Nasca earthworks carved into the ground left an indelible mark on the coastal landscape, revealing a great deal about Nasca beliefs and aesthetic traditions. The Nasca introduced a stunning linearity to the arts of the pre-Columbian Andes, which carried through to other aspects of their artistic repertoire.

Additional resources

Rebecca R. Stone, Art of the Andes: From Chavín to Inca (London: Thames & Hudson 2012)

Helaine Silverman, Cahuachi in the Ancient Nasca World (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1993)

Watch the video: Nastya and adventure police chase stories for kids (August 2022).