The Paracas Candelabra, also called the Candelabra of the Andes, is a well-known prehistoric geoglyph found on the northern face of the Paracas Peninsula at Pisco Bay in Peru. Pottery found nearby has been radio carbon dated to 200 BCE, the time of the Paracas culture. The design is cut two feet into the soil, with stones possibly from a later date placed around it. The figure is 595 feet tall, large enough to be seen 12 miles at sea.
Local tradition holds that it represents the lightning rod or staff of the god Viracocha, who was worshipped throughout South America. A variety of popular myths have arisen: one attributes it to José de San Martín; another suggests it is a Masonic symbol (see Freemasonry); and yet another that sailors created it as a sign which they could view at sea for landfall.
Visitors to the Candelabra should view the site under the supervision of a responsible and accredited guide.
Although the exact age of the Candelabra geoglpyh is unknown, archaeologists have found pottery around the site dating back to around 200 B.C. This pottery likely belonged to the Paracas people, although whether they were involved in the creation of the geoglyph is not known. The reason for the Candelabra's creation is also unknown, although it is most likely a representation of the trident, a lightning rod of the god Viracocha, who was seen in mythology throughout South America. It has been suggested that the Candelabra was built as a sign to sailors, or even as a symbolic representation of a hallucinogenic plant called Jimson weed.
- Nazca Lines
- 500m large Candelabra geoglyph grown from trees since 1950, 100km north of Montevideo, Uruguay
- Joseph, Frank; "The Candelabra of the Andes", The Ancient American, 2:10, no. 10, 1995, reproduced at Science Frontiers ONLINE, No. 102: Nov-Dec 1995), accessed 3 Nov 2010