Nazca Lines,
Creative Commons

The 2000-year-old Nazca Lines in Peru have been damaged by a truck driver — identified as 40-year-old Jainer Jesus Flores Vigo. Officials have revealed that the driver had ignored the warning signs and driven over the Nazca Lines.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site — Nazca Lines — is the best example of geoglyphs.

A geoglyph is a large design or motif (generally longer than 4 metres) produced on the ground and typically formed by clastic rocks or similarly durable elements of the landscape, such as stones, stone fragments, live trees, gravel, or earth. These designs are believed to be crucial for astronomical rituals.

The driver was arrested for his actions, Peru's Ministry of Culture revealed. But he was later released as the magistrate was quoted by a CNN report as saying that there was lack of evidence to prove that the driver's actions were more than a mistake.

The ruling has been appealed by local prosecutors.

The Nazca Lines are huge designs scratched on the ground on a coastal plain to the south of Lima, the capital of Peru. These lines were made between 500 BC and 500 AD.

The site has been defined as "one of the greatest enigmas of the archaeological world" by UNESCO. The Nazca Lines portray plants, creatures, geometric designs and imaginary beings. They are spread over an area of 290 square miles (around 750 square km).

Large tire marks have been left by the driver's truck across a region of Nazca Lines that is around 150 by 350 feet, Peruvian authorities said.

"The region's ancient inhabitants drew on the arid ground a great variety of thousands of large-scale zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures and lines or sweeps with outstanding geometric precision, transforming the vast land into a highly symbolic, ritual and social-cultural landscape that remains until today," UNESCO describes the lines and geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa.

The site has been damaged before, too. According to Peruvian officials in 2014, Greenpeace activists had left a line in the desert that was said to last for around hundreds or thousands of years by the government. It was a stunt meant to deliver a message for renewable energy, with the Greenpeace logo next to the geoglyph of a hummingbird, Washington Post reported.

A CNN report stated that the authorities are planning to increase the security around the ancient geoglyphs.

"While the Culture Ministry monitors areas with the largest concentration of geoglyphs every day, it may not be fully protected," Johnny Isla, a spokesman of the Ica branch of Peru's Ministry of Culture told Andina, a state-run news agency.

"Entry and transit are possible through valleys and streams where the archaeological area spreads out," Isla added.