The Lady of Nazca

María Reiche Grosse Neumann


Archeologist and German scientist, born in 1903. Arrived to Peru in 1940 and was devoted to the study of the mysterious Nazca Lines since 1948, on which she established the theory of them being a great astronomical calendar and a series of observatories of astronomical cycles.


María Reiche regrettably on June 8, 1998, in the city of Lima, with the eternal gratitude of the Peruvian town.


María was buried in Nazca, with Honors of Minister of State. She was previously honored by the Peruvian Prime Minister with the Medal to the Merit in the Degree of Great Cross.


She wrote and published about her scientific studies, being at the present time one of the biggest authorities in the matter.


Her invaluable work, made with love and dedication, allowed the Nazca Lines to be declared "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO.


Promoter of the Nazca pre-Inca culture in the national and international environment; her investigation work was made with perseverance and scarce government support, sacrificing her own means.


She received in life numerous honors and acknowledgement, especially from the town of Nazca that named her "Nazca's Favorite Daughter" . In 1992, the Government of Peru granted her the Peruvian nationality in recognition to her work carried out through 50 years. In 1993 she was honored by the Government with the "Orden del Sol" in the degree of Great Cross.


The place in which she lived has been established as Maria Reiche Site Museum, in which her instruments and notebooks filled with her investigation notes are shown. Maria Reiche lived humbly.

February 2000

In a letter to her mother, a young Maria Reiche tried to calm her mother's fears about her future: "Dear mother, you wrote to me about the great expectations you have about my future. Compared to those expectations. I'm a failure, and the world has the right to expect more from me than I actually deliver. But you are right, one should find oneself first before trying to be something in this world. I am only just beginning to discover what I really want to do.


I don't understand in what way what is going on inside of me will takes shape externally. It's possible that will live for a few years more in complete anonymity until destiny considers me worthy of taking over the task that it has assigned me, the task for which I was born ... I believe it involves a specific task for which I am unconsciously ready, preparing myself and learning."


Maria wasn't wrong. Destiny had laid out an impossible task that only her steel will could pull off: to let the world know about the enigmatic lines that the Nazca culture had carved into the desert, and at the same time, protect them.


Maria left her native Dresden bound for Peru to work as a nanny for the German Consul in Cusco in 1934, when she was 31. She parted from the tranquil town of Dresden, a pretty German city by the Elba River to head off with US archaeologist Paul Kosok to discover one of the world's greatest mysteries in the arid sands of the Nazca desert.


Since then, Maria understood that this was her destiny in life, and never again left those remote desert wastelands. Patient, disciplined and meticulous, she swept the sands away until she had uncovered 10,000 lines, 60 figures of animals and humans, and 40 geometric shapes of triangles and trapezoids.


Two years ago, at the age of 95, after spending a lifetime studying and caring for the lines, she passed away. Without a doubt, Maria was true to the promise that she made to her mother.


Peru, and above all Nazca, will never forget her.


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