Scientists have confirmed that rock lines found in Peru are even older than the famous Nazca geoglyphs. The newly discovered rock lines were made by the Paracas, an ancient Andean society that built the lines hundreds of years before the lines in Nazca.

The Paracas rock lines uncovered by the researchers date back to 300 B.C., which means that they are around 300 years older than the earliest known Nazca geoglyph. The team that made the discovery was led by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researcher Charles Stanish. Stanish is also the director of the UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Stanish and his team published their findings at the online journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Paracas civilization first came into prominence in 800 B.C. The Paracas civilization built their society in an area which is now in modern day Peru. In comparison, the Nazca civilization started around 700 years later in 100 B.C. The more famous Nazca people are well known around the world as the people responsible for creating the giant geoglyphs depicting animals such as birds and monkeys.

"They used the lines in a different way than the Nazca," said Stanish. "They basically created these areas of highly ritualized processions and activities that were not settled permanently."

The new rock lines were found in the Chinca Valley. The area where the lines were found is known for a number of settlements that were founded before Europeans landed on the shores of South America. Scientists now know that the Chinca Valley was the site of several settlements which were active between 800 B.C. and 1500 A.D. The Paracas rock lines varied in length but some of the longer lines were around 1.9 miles in length.

Aside from the new found rock lines, the Paracas were also known for building a number of ceremonial mounds. The mounds were built in relatively close proximity to Paracas settlements. Stanish and his colleagues believe that the rock lines helped people find their way from the coastal areas of Peru to the Paracas ceremonial mounds. Stanish likened the lines to early European trade fairs. The lines helped the Paracas people travel to and from the coast where trading could be done.

The researchers discovered that many of the lines pointed towards the direction of five major ceremonial mounds. Some of the lines were also aligned with the general direction indicating the winter solstice during the month of June. The lines were built somewhere between the Paracas settlements in the highlands and the coastal areas.

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