(Reuters) — More than a hundred new geoglyphs have recently been discovered in the ancient Peruvian plains was born and its surroundings may shed new light on the mysterious pre-Columbian artworks that have fascinated scientists and visitors for decades.
Following two years of field surveys using aerial photography and drones, Peruvian and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University announced earlier this month that they discovered 168 new designs on the South Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Peru’s southern coast.
Geoglyphs, large figures carved into the South American desert, date back 2,000 years and represent humans, cats, snakes, orcas, native birds and animals such as camels, llamas, guanacos and alpacas.
Jorge Olano, chief archaeologist of the Nazca Lines Research Project, explained that the new figures averaged between two and six meters in length. Why the Nazca Lines, which can only be seen from the air, were created remains a mystery.
The geoglyphs revealed this month are small and can be seen from the ground, Yamagata University professor Masato Sakai, who led the study, told Reuters.
Iconic remnants of Peru’s rich history, these figures are located a three-hour drive from the capital, Lima.
Researchers have already found 190 figures in the area since 2004. But the vastness of the land they cover has complicated efforts to study and preserve heritage.
Yamagata University says the research will be used to contribute to the conservation of stripes in artificial intelligence-based studies.
The university’s research in collaboration with the Peruvian government helped define and protect the area facing threats from urban and economic development.
“Some of the geoglyphs are in danger of being destroyed due to the recent expansion of mining-related workshops in the archaeological park,” Sakai said.