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Nazca Line Discoveries in Peru Suggest the Mysterious Geoglyphs Are Pervasive

November 19, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

The Nazca Lines depicting human forms, birds and snakes may have served as sites for rituals and markers for travelers.

The famous Nazca Lines are intricate designs in the ground that cover an estimated 170 square miles in southern Peru. The large-scale etchings depicting people, animals and objects date to 2,000 years ago, when a pre-Inca civilization laid them in the Nazca Desert.

Many modern researchers have speculated about their meaning, but they still don’t know (and may never know) the reason they exist. And recent discoveries suggest there are still many more yet to discover.

In November 2019, researchers announced the detection of 143 new geoglyphs on southern Peru’s Nazca plain. The geoglyphs date from 100 B.C. to A.D. 300, and range in size from about 16 to 330 feet across (for comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall).

This geoglyph was discovered using IBM Watson Machine Learning Community Edition.

The drawings show cats, camels and other animals, as well as human figures wearing headdresses. One depicts a two-headed snake eating humans. Researchers from Yamagata University in Japan detected 142 of the 143 geoglyphs by performing fieldwork and analyzing high-resolution 3D data, and they detected the final glyph using artificial intelligence in partnership with IBM Japan.

The 143 geoglyphs add to the over 1,000 ancient designs already discovered in the Nazca (or “Nasca”) and Palpa regions of southern Peru. The Nazca Lines discovered so far consist of 800 straight lines, over 300 geometric designs and more than 70 animal and plant geoglyphs. In the nearby province of Palpa, there are about 50 geoglyphs of warriors and other figures carved into hillsides. Together, the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa make up a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The discovery of 143 geoglyphs etched into Peru’s Nazca Desert was announced in November 2019. This one, depicting a bird, was likely created in the Early Nazca period (circa 100 to A.D. 300)

View the 8 images of this gallery on the original article

Yamagata researchers think ancient people created the 143 newly-discovered glyphs “by removing the black stones that cover the land, thereby exposing the white sand beneath,” explains the university in a press release. Researchers separated these glyphs into two groups: type A, which are larger, made of lines and likely date to the Early Nazca period (circa 100 to 300 A.C.); and …read more


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