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More than 100 new Nazca-geoglyphs depicting people and many different animals discovered in Peru

The geoglyph discovered using IBM Watson Machine Learning Community Edition.

The land-lines dating from 100 BC to AD 300 were created by the Pre-Columbian culture in the mountainous area

143 new geoglyphs depicting people, animals, and other beings have been discovered on the Nazca Pampa and surrounding areas in Peru. A research team led by Professor Masato Sakai (Cultural anthropology, Andean archeology) at Yamagata University in Japan made the sensational finds after 15 years of field research combined with modern investigation methods and recently Artificial Intelligence.

Geoglyphs are mysterious lines from ancient times on the Earth’s surface known from many countries. Those on the Nazca Pampa were created by removing the black stones that cover the land, thereby exposing the white sand beneath. They are categorized into 2 main types, depending on whether the removed stones form lines or solid-colored surfaces.

Bird, line type. Right: photo after processing.

The Nazca Pampa is an area spanning approximately 20 by 15 kilometers. Its geoglyphs were designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1994 to witness the beliefs und the skills of Pre-Columbian South America.

The newly discovered geoglyphs depict people and many different animals including birds, monkeys, fish, snakes, foxes, felines, and camelids. They date back to at least 100 BC to AD 300. The longest stretches over 100 m, the smallest is under 5 m.

Fieldwork was one of the methods the scientists used. That means picking through pottery remnants, stones and soil. Also were analyzed high-resolution areal photos and other modern technologies like aerial laser measurements and one geoglyph was discovered in this way.

Two-headed snake and Humanoids. Right: photo after processing.Fish. Right: photo after processing.

In a special feasibility study, Artificial Intelligence was applied to the research data. IBM with its software and a high-speed computer was a partner in the project.

The scientists hope, that this technology will accelerate research and also awareness towards activities to protect this World Heritage Site. In the past, the expansion of urban areas in Nazca has brought damage to the geoglyphs.

The famous Nazca Lines are assumed to be ritual sites of the Nazca-Culture. The Nazca inhabited the Pacific coast before the lush tropical climate turned arid. Archaeological finds along the line over hill and valley allow the conclusion that the former inhabitants celebrated religious ceremonies there. Perhaps the lines were paths, which the priests or believers walked to summon rainfall.

Source: Yamagata University

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(24.11.2019, USA: 11.24.2019)