The famous Nazca Lines just expanded thanks to the help of artificial intelligence which has discovered over 143 new geoglyphs, adding new lines and more ancient artwork including strange images of humanoids.
Nazca Lines discovery: Artificial intelligence does what humans can’t
Artificial intelligence (AI) is opening new doors in all avenues of life, including archaeology.
Researchers using IBM AI technology from the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York located 143 geoglyphs. The new geoglyphs are believed to be older than the previously known lines, with the latest discovery believed to date back between 100 BCE and 300 CE.
Researchers at Yamagata University and IBM Japan combined fieldwork and the use of AI technology to analyze high-resolution satellite imagery of the Nazca region.
First, the researchers removed the black stones that cover the land, which exposed the white sand beneath. Then the AI technology looked at and analyzed the satellite images of the region with the stones removed.
The exposed white sand revealed additional etchings of geoglyphs.
Nazca Lines: Two-headed snakes and humanoid images
One of the new etchings discovered was that of a snake geoglyph, with a head at each end. On one end, eyes are clearly discernible and the snake is consuming what appears to be a human.
At the other end of the snake, the snake is also consuming something that may or may not be a human. The two-headed snake geoglyph is approximately thirty meters long.
Also among the new images found where that of strange humanoids. One measuring approximately four meters in length shows a humanoid apparently holding some kind of club or rod, it head adorned with what may or may not be three upright feathers.
The longest new geoglyph discovered was over 100 meters from end to end, larger than the Statue of Liberty.
About the Nazca Lines
In the Nazca Desert in Peru, covering an area of nearly 1,000 square kilometers, lies a group of pre-Columbian geoglyphs that are etched into desert sands.
The combined length of all the lines is over 1300 kilometers.
Typically 10 to 15 centimeters deep, the etchings represent roughly 300 different figures including animals, fish, birds, and plants. Because the drawings exist on a plateau that is isolated, dry, stable and windless – it has helped to naturally preserve the lines against the elements for thousands of years.
It is believed the lines were created between 500 BC and 580 BC.
Were the Nazca Lines meant for ancient sky travelers?
One question that has always plagued researchers is who were the designs made for? Despite these new discoveries, researchers aren’t any closer to coming up with an answer regarding the purpose of the Nazca lines.
Because the Nazca lines are best seen from the air, a theory still exists that they were created for the purpose of being seen by ancient sky travelers or possibly directing them.
Theories on the purpose of the Nazca lines
In 1553, the first known published mention of the Nazca lines, Pedro Cieza de León described them in his book, mistaking them for trail markers. In 1586, Luis Monzón mistook them for roads.
But the first scholar to study the Nazca lines at length was American historian Paul Kosok. He was studying ancient irrigation systems in Peru by air between 1940-1941 and realized that the lines actually made the shape of a bird.
He later worked with American archaeologist Richard P. Schaedel and German mathematician and archaeologist Maria Reiche to help determine the purpose of the Nazca Lines.
They were the first to propose that the lines were markers on the horizon to show where the sun and other celestial bodies rose on significant dates.
Since that time, numerous archaeologists, historians, mathematicians and amateur researchers all have tried to determine the purpose of the lines.
Other theories are that the lines are a giant astronomical calendar, had to do with rituals for water or farming success, or that they had to do with religious practices.