Some have human, animal or plant forms; others are mythical, unknown beings, apparently taken from a feverish imagination. Almost all of them are a kind of message from the Earth to the cosmos, traces -like unknown calligraphies- created from the past for eternity. The so-called “Nazca lines” (also spelled Nasca), in the middle of the desert in south-central Peru, continue to intrigue scientists and visitors hundreds of years after their creation.
While you are traveling to Peru you may need to keep communication or a translation app. That’s why you may need to use one of our mobile phone plans for tourists to have a tourist sim card. In order to make a nice trip here in PeruSIM. Here’s some information about the Nazca lines.
What are the “Nazca lines”?
Located some 400 kilometers from Lima, the Nazca lines were unknown for centuries, until the dawn of aviation discovered the enigmatic shapes that are only visible from high altitudes.
Together, they occupy an area of approximately 517 square kilometers of desert and include hundreds of geoglyphs, created by the Nazca civilization between 500 BC and 500 AD.
These designs were delineated as channels or ditches in the sand, that is, as low-relief engravings, but the arid conditions of the terrain have allowed their preservation for centuries.
With these figures, the ancient Nazca society, developed some 2,300 years ago, “transformed an extensive barren territory into a cultural landscape with a high symbolic, ritual and social connotation,” according to the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.
The lines were discovered in 1927 and according to Paul Kosok, an American academic who dedicated himself to their study, they were “the largest astronomical book in the world”, marking the winter and summer solstices.
In 1993, the geoglyphs became an archaeological reserve and part of Peru’s National Cultural Heritage.
A year later they were declared World Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
“They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs in the world and are incomparable in extent, magnitude, quantity, size and diversity with any other similar work in the world,” Unesco stated.
“They form a singular and magnificent artistic achievement of Andean culture,” it added.
Who discovered the Nazca Lines?
Maria Reiche, the German mathematician who dedicated her life to protecting the Nasca Lines in Peru. Some are preserved in perfect condition, others have been slowly erased by winds, erosion and the passage of time. But now, a group of Japanese experts have found, through the use of state-of-the-art technology, a group of geoglyphs that were never known to exist.
There are more than 140 shapes ranging from some already known, such as monkeys and snakes, to others that have surprised scientists, such as a humanoid being with a cane whose meaning will now begin to be studied.
As reported in a statement by Yamagata University, which sponsored the study, it is believed that the geoglyphs found were created between 100 BC and 300 AD, and most of them are in poor condition.
Hence, in addition to field work and high-resolution images, an artificial intelligence (AI) model was needed to locate them, using IBM technology.
How did they carry out the study?
The team of Japanese experts, led by archaeologist Masato Sakai, who has previously found other lines, initially conducted a field study between 2016 and 2018, which involved an analysis of the materials used and the terrain.
With the data obtained and after processing high-resolution images, they made projections of the figures and discovered 142 new shapes including fish, llamas, monkeys and birds.
Then, with the data obtained, they used AI techniques to reconstruct some whose shape could not be determined by conventional methods.
Finally, the challenge concluded with the identification of a new geoglyph: a human form with a walking stick.
“This study explored the feasibility of AI’s potential to discover new lines and introduced the ability to process large volumes of data with AI, including high-resolution aerial photos at high speeds,” the research report states.gó.
What did the scientists find?
The figures found vary from their complexity to their age or size.
The largest one identified measures more than 100 meters from end to end (a little more than the Statue of Liberty) and the smallest ones measure only 5 meters, approximately the same size as Michelangelo’s David.
To facilitate their identification, Japanese experts divided them into two groups:
These are line drawings and tend to be larger: they measure more than 50 meters each.
They are believed to be the most recent creation and their origin varies between 100 and 300 AD.
They tend to be more complex and smaller structures: less than 50 m. They are believed to be older, built around 100 B.C., or even earlier.
According to scientists, each group would have had different purposes: the first would have been used for rituals involving the use of pottery and the second for more decorative purposes.
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