(Reuters) — More than a hundred new geoglyphs just discovered in and around the ancient Nazca plain in Peru could shed new light on the mysterious pre-Columbian works of art that have intrigued scientists and visitors for decades.
After two years of field studies using aerial photography and drones, Peruvian and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University reported earlier this month the discovery of 168 new designs at the UNESCO World Heritage site on the south coast. of the Pacific of Peru.
The geoglyphs, huge figures carved in the South American desert, date back more than 2,000 years and represent humans, felines, snakes, orcas, native birds and camelids, animals such as llamas, guanacos and alpacas.
Jorge Olano, chief archaeologist of the Nazca Lines research program, explained that the new figures had an average length of between two and six meters. Why the Nazca Lines, which can only be seen from the air, were created remains a mystery.
However, the geoglyphs revealed this month are smaller and can be seen from the ground, Masato Sakai, a Yamagata University professor who led the study, told Reuters.
Iconic remnants of Peru’s rich history, the figures are located about a three-hour drive from the capital, Lima.
Researchers had already discovered 190 figures in the area since 2004. But the vastness of the ground they cover has complicated efforts to study and conserve the heritage.
Yamagata University says that the research will be used in studies based on artificial intelligence to contribute to the conservation of the lines.
The university’s studies in collaboration with the Peruvian government have helped delimit and protect the area, which faces threats from urban and economic development.
“Some geoglyphs are in danger of being destroyed due to the recent expansion of mining-related workshops in the archaeological park,” Sakai said.