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Peru’s majestic Nazca Lines recently received a significant boost in the number of geoglyphs that paint the vast region, Live Science reported.
Archaeologists spotted 168 previously unknown geoglyphs – large designs or motifs produced on the ground – created by the Indigenous inhabitants more than a millennium ago in the Aja area.
The new outlines were found through aerial photographs and drone footage during field surveys between 2019 and 2020. The finding brings the total number of earthen artworks in the area to 358 geoglyphs, the researchers explained.
They added that the newly discovered geoglyphs were created between 100 BCE and 300 CE.
The artworks consisted of outlines of humans and various animals: Among these is the motif of a headless person holding a stick or club while their head tumbles away. The team suggested that the scene was a ritual depiction involving beheading, rather than a representation of warfare.
It’s not exactly clear why the ancient inhabitants created the geoglyphs, but one theory proposes that it helped the people find water in the desert region.
Other researchers noted that some of the newly found geoglyphs were created by piling stones on top of each other, instead of removing soil and exposing the white surface underneath – which is typical in other Nazca Lines.
But aside from adding a new collection to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, archaeologists are hoping to use the new findings to “teach” artificial intelligence to better detect images of other potential geoglyphs.