The mystery around Peru’s ancient Nazca lines refuses to die down. A recent study has found 168 new geoglyphs on this peculiar terrain.
The discovery was made possible due to the collaboration of Peruvian archeologists and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University, Japan, conducting field surveys aided by aerial photos and drones on Peru’s southern Pacific coast.
The newly discovered carved figures have an average length between 6 and 19 feet and depict outlined figures of cats, snakes, killer whales, and alpacas, according to a statement released by Yamagata University.
The researchers estimate the geoglyphs were created between 100 BCE and 300 CE, or approximately 1,700 to 2,100 years ago, Business Insider reported.
Previously discovered lines measure as much as 1,200 feet in length and can only be discerned through aerial views. In contrast, the recently found Nazca figures are small enough to be seen from the ground.
“The discovery of 41 geoglyphs in this area [Aja area, near the city of Nasca] was previously announced by Yamagata University in 2014 and 2015, which led to the creation of an archaeological park in 2017 in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture to protect them,” the statement from Yamagata University read. “With this discovery, a total of 77 geoglyphs are now known to be concentrated in this archaeological park.”
The 2000-year-old Nazca lines have puzzled scientists since they were first formally studied in 1926.
“These geoglyphs were created by removing black stones from the surface of the earth to expose a white sandy surface below,” read the statement from Yamagata University. How the black stones were removed remains a mystery.
Since most of these lines are only recognizable through aerial viewing, how our ancestors were able to create these geoglyphs with their limited technology fuels theories of the alien origin of these designs.
“The results of this research will also be used for geoglyph conservation activities,” the statement further read.
“Some geoglyphs are in danger of being destroyed due to the recent expansion of mining-related workshops in the archaeological park,” Masato Sakai, a professor from Yamagata University who led the study, told Reuters.
A separate study regarding the origin of bird designs found some possible answers concerning the reason for their creation.
“We closely noted the shapes and relative sizes of the birds’ beaks, heads, necks, bodies, wings, tails and feet and compared them with those of modern birds in Peru,” Masaki Eda of the Hokkaido University Museum said.
“The Nazca people who drew the images could have seen pelicans while food-gathering on the coast,” Eda said. “Our findings show that they drew exotic birds, not local birds, and this could be a clue as to why they drew them in the first place,” Eda added.