The 115th anniversary of the birth of the “Lady of Lines,” Maria Reiche, is being commemorated by Google Doodle. Reiche is widely known for dedicating her life to preserving and protecting the world-famous 8-decade-old Peruvian Nazca Lines.
Reiche devoted her life to analyzing and guarding the mysterious markings – which later became a UN World Heritage site – in the South American country. The German-born Peruvian astronomer, mathematician and geographer first introduced the Nazca Lines in 1941.
The Nazca Lines are a set of ancient geoglyphs – is a large design on the ground which is usually longer than four meters – carved into the desert of southern Peru.
According to the Mirror, the geographer used a measuring tape, sextant and compass, to measure about 1000 lines to investigate their astronomical orientation.
Reiche, with the assistance of the Peruvian Air Force, captured aerial photographs of the outlines to better aid her investigations. Reiche theorized that the figures were related to an astronomical calendar, however, today they are believed to have been ceremonial markings.
From the air, the lines formed 18 different kinds of animals and birds, in addition to hundreds of geometric shapes. The animals include a monkey, a spider and a hummingbird. Some of the figures measure nearly 1200 feet long and are estimated to be between 2500-1500 years old.
According to the National Geographic, the Nazca Lines consist of 800 straight lines, and 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs – biomorphs – which span some 200 miles in the southeast region of Lima, Peru. The straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length.
Reiche was also widely known as the “woman who swept the desert” as she would use a simple household broom to physically shielded the figures from intruding people and vehicles as well as sweep away infringing dust.
The astronomer also reportedly paid security personnel to guard the region and later sponsored an observation tower for visitors to view the lines with disturbing the site.
Reiche was granted Peruvian citizenship in 1992, and the Nazca airport is named after her.
She died in Lima, in 1998, at the age of 95.