Peru: discovery of 168 mysterious Nazca geoglyphs | Knowledge of the Arts

On December 8, archaeologists announced the discovery of 168 Nazca geoglyphs in Peru. These mysterious lines represent humans, birds, killer whales, felines and snakes.

They are one of the great enigmas of archaeology. Traced almost 2000 years ago in the Peruvian desert, 400 km south of Lima, the geoglyphs of Nazca represent imposing anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and fantastic figures, visible only from the sky. 168 new patterns have been unearthed by archaeologists from theYamagata University (Japan) and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture following analyzes carried out using aerial photographs and drones, between June 2019 and February 2020. With the 190 discovered until 2018, there are now 358 mysterious monumental lines which are known to researchers. Representing humans, birds, killer whales, felines and snakes, these new geoglyphs date from between 100 BC and 300 AD according to specialists.


Two types of geoglyphs identified

Discovered in 1927 by archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, the geoglyphs continue to intrigue the world due to their variety of patterns, number and gigantic size. According to scientists, they were made by the Nazca Indians, a pre-Inca civilization in southern Peru that developed between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD. Some of these geoglyphs represent living creatures, stylized plants or fantastic beings, others geometric figures several kilometers long. Specialists assume that they would have had a ritual function linked to astronomy and are an exceptional testimony to the culture, tradition and magico-religious beliefs of the societies that developed in pre-Columbian South America between the 8th century BC and the 8th century AD. The site of Nazca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Unesco since 1994.

Example of an anthropomorphic geoglyph recently discovered by researchers. ©Yamagata University

The group of researchers led by Professor Masato Sakai, of Yamagata University, in collaboration with Peruvian archaeologist Jorge Olano, discovered 36 of these mysterious forms in the archaeological park founded in 2017. “ The geoglyphs were created by removing black stones from the surface of the earth to expose a surface of white sand below “Explains the experts in a press release. “ Current research suggests that there are two types of geoglyphs: a linear type and a relief type. Among the new geoglyphs discovered, only five belong to the first type while 163 can be associated with the second. Most of them measure less than 10 meters in diameter.

Aerial view of a Nazca geoglyph in the shape of a hummingbird.  ©Unsplash/Seiji Seiji

Aerial view of a Nazca geoglyph in the shape of a hummingbird. ©Unsplash/Seiji Seiji

Only 5% of geoglyphs discovered to date

Now, Yamagata University will continue its research by working in collaboration with the IMB TJ Watson Research Center to conduct analyzes using artificial intelligence to understand the layout of Nazca geoglyphs and better preserve them. In addition, specialists and aficionados are not at the end of their surprise. In 2020, Luis Jaime Castillo, a Nazca-Palpa Project archaeologist for the Ministry of Culture of Perutold the British media “ The Guardian that only 5% had been discovered.

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Peru: discovery of 168 mysterious Nazca geoglyphs | Knowledge of the Arts


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