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A team of researchers from Yamagata University have discovered 142 ‘new’ geoglyphs at Nazca, the famous archaeological site in Peru. The newly-identified glyphs depict people, animals and other beings.

It’s not completely clear at this stage whether the new discoveries are additional to other finds at Nazca announced in recent years (in 2014, and 2018), or represent the entire number of geoglyphs detected by the team since they started work there in 2004.

According to a press release on the university’s website, these new geoglyphs were identified through fieldwork and analyzing high-resolution 3D data.

Professor Sakai and other researchers at Yamagata University analyzed high-resolution images of the entire Nasca Pampa, obtained through aerial laser measurements among other methods, and conducted fieldwork in the area. Through these efforts, they constructed a hypothesis that a type of biomorphic geoglyph (the undermentioned type B) was chiefly produced along some small paths situated in the western region of the Nasca Pampa. As a result of on-site studies carried on until 2018, they newly identified 142 figures of people, animals, and other objects.

These geoglyphs depicted people and many different animals (including birds, monkeys, fish, snakes, foxes, felines, and camelids). All of these figures were created by removing the black stones that cover the land, thereby exposing the white sand beneath. They are categorized into two main types, depending on whether the geoglyphs were made by removing stones to form lines (type A) or to form solid-colored surfaces (type B). Type A geoglyphs are generally large in scale, and all of the figures that span more than 50 meters(165 feet) across belong to this type, while most type B geoglyphs are less than 50 meters(165 feet).

Out of the newly identified geoglyphs, the longest stretched over 100 meters(330 feet) across and was categorized under type A, while the smallest was under 5 meters (16 feet) and belonged to type B. Type A geoglyphs date relatively later and were likely created in the Early Nasca period (ca. 100 to AD 300). On the other hand, the type B geoglyphs are thought to have been produced at least during the Initial Nasca period (ca. 100 BC to AD 100), if not earlier.

Nazca geoglyph

And even more may soon be uncovered, through the use of advanced technology: in a feasibility study carried out from 2018 to 2019 together with IBM Japan, the university discovered another new geoglyph by using an AI model that used machine learning to discover new lines by scanning high-resolution aerial photos at high speeds.

You can view more of the images in high resolution this presentation (PDF, Japanese language) released by Yamagata University.