Maria Reiche was a German born mathematician who moved to Peru as the nanny for the German consul in Cusco is best known for her life's work of gaining the recognition and the preservation of the Nazca Lines.
The Nazca were unknown to modern people until the were first spotted during a commercial airline flight in the 1920's over Peru. One of the passengers reported seeing primitive landing strips in the desert of the Nazca Plateau. Paul Kosok an American archeologist is credited for rediscovering the lines in the 1930's. During the 1940's Maria Reiche joined Kosok as his assistant and continued his work after his death in 1959.
During the decades that passed Maria Reiche spent her time clearing debris from the Nazca lines, writing letters, articles and campaigning for preservation of the Nazca Lines - during much of her life she was considered to be crazy by local people. She sponsored the constructor of the tower near the Panamerican Highway allowing visitors to see these incredible lines. Three years before her death from cancer in 1995, the Lines of Nazca were named a UNESCO World Heritage site - due in particular to her efforts.