One of the world’s greatest mysteries has gotten much bigger and more complicated. Reuters announced, “More than a hundred new designs discovered in and around Peru’s ancient Nazca plain and surrounding areas could bring new information to light about the mysterious pre-Columbian artworks that have intrigued scientists and visitors for decades.
Following two years of field surveys with aerial photos and drones, Peruvian and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University earlier this month reported the discovery of 168 new designs at the UNESCO World Heritage site on Peru’s southern Pacific coast.”
The Nazca Lines can almost exclusively be viewed from the air, mystifying scientists since the advent of human air travel.
“Archaeologists have found 168 geoglyphs in and around the Peruvian city of Nazca, adding to the extensive, centuries-old collection of ancient and enigmatic images that make up the Nazca Lines, according to NPR.
The new findings add to the 190 known geoglyphs at the UNESCO World Heritage site, located along the southern coast of Peru. The markings, discovered by researchers at Japan’s Yamagata University in collaboration with Peruvian archaeologist Jorge Olano, are thought to date to between 100 B.C. and A.D. 300.
The depictions include humans, birds, killer whales, cats and snakes. The first geoglyphs, largely other images of animals or linear designs, were drawn into the ground thousands of years ago. Inhabitants removed black stones from the ground’s surface to expose the underlying white sandy surface to create their designs.
“They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world and are unmatched in its extent, magnitude, quantity, size, diversity and ancient tradition to any similar work in the world,” according to UNESCO. The collection stretches across an area of about 280 square miles.”
Anthropologists, ethnologists, archaeologists and every other kind of “ologist” you can think of have examined the people drew the lines, the ancient Nazca, in an attempt to figure out the puirposes of the huge drawings. A prominent hypothesis is that they created them to be seen by gods in the sky, but that still doesn’t explain much.
The History Channel has noted, “More recent research suggested that the Nazca Lines’ purpose was related to water, a valuable commodity in the arid lands of the Peruvian coastal plain. The geoglyphs weren’t used as an irrigation system or a guide to find water, but rather as part of a ritual to the gods—an effort to bring much-needed rain.
Some scholars point to the animal depictions—some of which are symbols for rain, water or fertility and have been found at other ancient Peruvian sites and on pottery—as evidence of this theory.
In 2015, researchers presenting at the 80th annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology argued that the purpose of the Nazca Lines changed over time. Initially, pilgrims heading to Peruvian temple complexes used the geoglyphs as ritual processional routes. Later groups, as part of a religious rite, smashed ceramic pots on the ground at the point of intersection between lines.
Experts say, “The desert floor is covered in a layer of iron oxide-coated pebbles of a deep rust color. The ancient peoples created their designs by removing the top 12 to 15 inches of rock, revealing the lighter-colored sand below. They likely began with small-scale models and carefully increased the models’ proportions to create the large designs.”
The Nazca created most of geoglyphs by removing rocks from solely the edge of the formations, thus creating an outline of a figure, while some of the others were formed by yanking rocks, thus creating a kind of hollow figure on the desert floor.