If you’ve been following our Nazca Travel Guide, you surely know about the famous mathematician Maria Reiche, who found her real vocation in the vast Peruvian desert. As you may know, the incredible Nazca geoglyphs are one of the many wonders of ancient Peru, and this iconic woman is responsible for its conservation and investigation.
Although the Nazca Lines have been studied for over 80 years, there is no definitive theory of what these gigantic figures could have been during the pre-Columbian era. However, the hard work of Maria Reiche made it possible to raise awareness about these lines.
For those who may not know much about them, the Nazca lines are a group of figures carved into the Nazca pampas; there are over 1,000 geoglyphs spread across the entire region.
The famous carvings were studied by many international and national archeologists, but it was Maria Reiche the one who commited to the very last of her days to promote the preservation and raise awareness of such a historical site.
The Casa Museo Maria Reiche gathers nearly every single documentation about her 50-year expedition across the Nazca region. A museum that once was the home to this iconic archeologist.
Maria Reiche is a German-born Peruvian mathematician who dedicated over 50 years of her life to the study and conservation of the Nazca lines. She graduated from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany and later moved to Peru to work as a tutor to the German consul’s children.
Maria Reiche was fascinated by the Peruvian culture during her stay in the Andes, reason why she decided to stay in 1937 to never come back to her hometown since it was destroyed during the war.
The german mathematician was based in Lima, where she worked as a gymnastic, German and English teacher but also as a translator and conservator at the Museo de Arqueología in Lima. Maria Reiche eventually met Professor Paul Kosok, who later took her on her first expedition to the Nazca lines.
Maria Reiche joined Professor Kosok’s team in 1939, which led her to the biggest project of her life. She took over the project as a solo one - even moving into a house right in the middle of the desert. She spent over 50 years studying and exploring the Nazca pampas, looking for a meaning to these ancient figures.
The renowned researcher believed that the Nazca lines were a sort of calendar, used to keep track of astronomical events such as solstices and more. However, this theory was discarded due to further investigations on the site.
Nonetheless, the hard work of Maria Reiche made possible the recognition of the Nazca lines as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Maria Reiche died in 1998 of cancer complications and was buried in her house in the desert.
As we mentioned earlier, this is the same house where Maria Reiche lived throughout her stay in Peru, it was her research center and home for over 50 years. The site is located at the 421,3 km of the Panamericana Sur highway, almost 27 kilometers away from the city of Nazca.
The Maria Reiche Museum holds all the information and documentation gathered from the research made by Dr. Maria Reiche Newman, along with maps, planes, pictures, mummies and archeological artifacts. Her remains are also found in this location.
If you’d like to visit this small museum, we can organize the perfect itinerary for you! Explore the best of southern Peru without missing anything on the way.
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