Researchers at Yamagata University and IBM Japan have identified more than 100 new geoglyphs picturing fish, snakes, humanoids, and many other things in Nazca, Peru using AI technology owned by IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York. In all, they discovered 142 geoglyphs dating back to between 100 BCE and 300 CE.
The images were negative ones created by removing rocks from the white sand. The longest of all the images is over 100 meters from top to bottom, bigger than the Statue of Liberty while the smallest is 5 meters, around the same size as Michelangelo’s David.
To make things easier, the researches divided all the geoglyphs into two categories according to their size, age, and design. Type A are those which tend to be bigger – 50 meters or more – and are just line drawings while Type B consists of smaller geoglyphs on solid-colored surfaces.
These two categories also differ by age. Typically, those in Type B were older, thought to be created anywhere from 100 BCE to 100 CE during the Initial Nazca Period, or earlier even, while Type B is a bit more recent – that is, between 100 and 300 CE.
The researchers’ theory is that each group had a different purpose. Type A, the larger ones, may have been for rituals that involved pottery while Type B was simply for decoration. These second ones were discovered close to paths or on slopes, which suggests their purpose may have been to aid travelers.
In 1994, all the lines and geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa, located 400 or so kilometers south of Lima, near the town of Nazca, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spanning 517 square kilometers of desert, it is here that the Nazca civilization created hundreds of geoglyphs between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
According to National Geographic, it wasn’t until flight was invented that they were discovered. That means they were left untouched for thousands of centuries.
Researchers are still mystified as to how or why geoglyphs were constructed, but as the World Heritage Convention states, they have turned "the vast land into a highly symbolic, ritual and social-cultural landscape that remains until today."
"They represent a remarkable manifestation of a common religion and social homogeneity that lasted a considerable period of time."
Some say they were used as a big astronomical calendar while others say they were places to perform rituals for farming success. Still others think that they were alien landing sites – one of the most unique and improbable theories.