Drones Help Archaeologists Find 50 New Ancient Nazca Lines in the Peruvian Desert

Friday, 06 April 2018 - 10:16AM
Science News
Friday, 06 April 2018 - 10:16AM
Drones Help Archaeologists Find 50 New Ancient Nazca Lines in the Peruvian Desert
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Image credit: YouTube/Outer Places

The Nazca Lines of Peru have been fascinating to researchers and archeologists for decades. While these gigantic carvings were made around a thousand years ago, and have been part of the local landscape for centuries, it was only recently, thanks to the invention of airplane flight, that anyone actually got a good look at what the pictures were meant to be.

Since the discovery of the full images created by these intricate, carefully constructed drawings back in the 1950s, archeologists have wished to know more about their origin. It turns out, though, that all along, we were only looking at a fraction of the Nazca Lines that are in existence.

National Geographic has published an exclusive report that shows off over 50 newly found giant line drawings, out in the Peruvian desert, that have previously gone undocumented. It seems that the ancient sculptors behind these works of art were operating in a much wider area than had previously been assumed.

Who Were the Nazca?

The Nazca were an ancient people in Peru who took up this art form for reasons unknown. Speculation among experts has led to the theory that the Nazca people were perhaps attempting to create images for their gods, who were high up in the sky above them—hence the size and positioning of these artwork.

In addition to the very romantic, indecipherable-without-air-travel Nazca Lines, many of these drawings are instead Paracas glyphs, which come from an earlier period in the history of Peruvian culture, showing that this art form was popular for a long period of time.

The people from the Paracas time period went about making their artwork in a slightly different manner. Rather than constructing their drawings on flat ground so that it could only be visible to someone with a bird's eye view, they instead drew on sloped hills, so that their images could be seen from people on the ground as well.

The fact that these lines haven't yet been documented is a testament to just how remote some of these carvings are, and it's all the more impressive that the creators of the images managed to complete their task.



What Inspired These Mysterious Works of Art in the Middle of the Desert?

Also differing between the lines from these two time periods are the common subject matters that the ancient artists explored. The newly found Nasca lines are more abstract, dealing with polygonal shapes, while the images from the Paracas period feature more human beings.

According to the co-discoverer of the new lines, Luis Jaime Castillo Butters:

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"Most of these figures are warriors. These ones could be spotted from a certain distance, so people had seen them, but over time, they were completely erased."
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Finding and photographing these lines hasn't been an easy process. The archeologists have some map data to work from, but in many cases, the remote nature of the locations meant that the geographical records weren't always complete. Weathering over the years has made many of these structures all but invisible, with mere outlines remaining where once the shapes would have been easy to spot.

Thankfully, drone technology came to the rescue, making it easy to take birds-eye photos of the lines once archeologists were actually on-site.

It's fun to know that there are still interesting pieces of ancient history that have yet to be uncovered, and it's all the more exciting to think that these discoveries can be aided by advancements in modern technology.

Archeology may not really be all about punching Nazis and solving deadly puzzles, but in reality, it's still pretty cool.

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