The Nazca Lines of Peru are world-famous as an ancient marvel (not least due to their central place in ‘ancient astronaut’ theories) – large ‘drawings’ made on the dry desert landscape by moving rocks to expose the ground beneath; so large that they are often only visible as a complete picture by viewing from above.
And now Peruvian archaeologists have announced that they have found more than 50 new ‘geoglyphs’ – not at Nazca though, but in adjacent Palpa province – after being tipped off to possible sites of significance by armchair ‘space archaeologists’.
Some of the newfound lines belong to the Nasca culture, which held sway in the area from 200 to 700 A.D. However, archaeologists suspect that the earlier Paracas and Toparácultures carved many of the newfound images between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D.
Unlike the iconic Nasca lines—most of which are only visible from overhead—the older Paracas glyphs were laid down on hillsides, making them visible to villages below. The two cultures also pursued different artistic subjects: Nasca lines most often consist of lines or polygons, but many of the newfound Paracas figures depict humans.
The new geoglyphs add crucial data on the Paracas culture, as well as the mysterious Topará culture, which marked the transition between the Paracas and the Nasca. Centuries before the famous Nasca lines were made, people in the region were experimenting with making massive geoglyphs.
“This means that it is a tradition of over a thousand years that precedes the famous geoglyphs of the Nasca culture, which opens the door to new hypotheses about its function and meaning,” says Peruvian Ministry of Culture archaeologist Johny Isla, the Nasca lines’ chief restorer and protector.
The new geoglyphs were discovered after ‘citizen scientists’, enlisted in the GlobalXplorer initiative (we discussed it here early last year) and searching satellite imagery for possible hidden archaeological sites, identified areas in Peru that archaeologists on the ground might want to investigate further. When researchers deployed drones to check out the area from the air, they were surprised to find the ancient geoglyphs.