Just when you thought the Nazca Lines couldn’t get more mysterious and awe-inspiring, they have! Using artificial intelligence, Japanese scientists have found a new Nazca Line etched into the deserts of southern Peru. The geoglyph is of a human-like figure, standing upright and holding what appears to be a stick while wearing what appears to be a headdress.
What are the Nazca Lines?
As a bit of background, the Nazca Lines are a set of enormous geoglyphs, or large designs produced on the ground, that stretch across nearly 400 square miles in the deserts and plains of southern Peru. The lines, which roughly date back between 500 BC and 500 AD, consist of 300 geometric figures that depict different plants, animals, and other more abstract shapes. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, these figures continue to mystify archaeologists and delight travelers from all over the world.
143 new Nazca Lines Discovered
Since 2006, a team of Japanese scientists, including Masato Sakai, a professor of archaeology at Yamagata University, has discovered more than 140 new lines. The finding of this most recent geoglyph is particularly interesting, as it is a result of the team’s experimental collaboration with multinational information technology company IBM. The IBM PAIRS Geoscope, a deep learning AI technology, was able to review innumerable satellite images, aerial photos, and laser data to detect and confirm this new humanoid shape.
Meaning of the Lines
With more discoveries come more questions. “It is very difficult to recognize the purpose of this formation and the societal role of the humanoid,” said Sakai, in an interview with Live Science. The figure is situated near a path, so there is some speculation that it could have served as some kind of waypost marker. In general, the Nazca lines are often associated with astronomical cycles, however, the latest studies show that the lines were likely ritual and water-related.
Though no theory has been conclusive, the more clues to piece together the purpose of the lines, the better. For this reason, researchers are working to protect the zone where the new geoglyphs have been found. Also, the success of AI technology means more possibilities with archaeological research of the area in the future. With the discovery and preservation of these ancient wonders, comes a better chance of understanding more about these shapes and those who etched them.
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Gina loves the hidden turquoise rivers of the Andes, the magical pink dolphins of the Amazon, and the lush ocean-view parks of Lima. She finds Peru to be the most inspiring country in the world, and has been exploring and writing about this sacred place since 2014.