Maria Reiche,95, a German mathematician who dedicated...


Maria Reiche,95, a German mathematician who dedicated half a century to protecting and studying massive ancient drawings in the Peruvian desert, died yesterday of stomach cancer in Lima, Peru.

The scholar's tireless work promoting the pre-Columbian drawings persuaded UNESCO to declare the 200-square-mile area a world heritage site in 1995.

The figures of a hummingbird, monkey, man and spider and other geometric figures were created by members of the Nasca culture between 700 B.C. and 900 A.D. They were scratched into the desert floor about 250 miles south of Lima. Their meaning is a mystery and has been the object of centuries of speculation.

Ms. Reiche became a legend in Peru for her almost single-handed battle to preserve the Nasca Lines. The white figures, measuring up to 1.2 miles in length and etched in shallow ditches, can be fully appreciated only from the air.

Tom Dent,65, a civil rights activist who later became a playwright, poet and essayist, died Saturday in New Orleans after undergoing extensive heart surgery.

In 1961, Thurgood Marshall appointed Mr. Dent as press liaison for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Defense Fund. In the job, Mr. Dent helped James Meredith get admitted as the first black student at the University of Mississippi.

Shirley Polykoff,90, an advertising star who wrote the hugely successful "Does she or doesn't she?" ad campaign for Clairol, died Thursday in New York. Her coy 1956 slogan helped popularize hair dye in a decade when only 7 percent of women colored their hair.

Prentiss L. Walker,80, a political novice who in 1964 became Mississippi's first Republican congressman since Reconstruction, died Friday in Jackson, Miss.

Pub Date: 6/09/98

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