Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Yamagata University team discovers 24 ancient geoglyphs in Peru

Anthropologists have discovered 24 examples of the mysterious Nazca Lines in the arid region near Nazca of southern Peru, a Yamagata University institute researching the geoglyphs announced July 7.

The discovery was made by a team of about 10 researchers, including Masato Sakai, a professor of cultural anthropology at the university who is also the deputy director of the university's Nazca research institute. The team began investigating the northern slopes of the urban areas of Nazca, Peru, from autumn 2013 and discovered 17 geoglyphs depicting llamas before the end of fiscal 2013.

The newest announcement is based on the team's findings in fiscal 2014. They discovered five new examples near the area where they found geoglyphs the previous fiscal year and 19 more on the slopes of a nearby mountain. Discovered in the 1920s, the geoglyphs and line drawings of Nazca and Pampas de Jumana are designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. They are etched into the dusty soil and cover some 450 square kilometers.

The 24 newly discovered geoglyphs are believed to date to around 400 B.C.-200 B.C., making them older than the iconic Nazca Line drawing known as the hummingbird. They range from 5 to 20 meters in length. Most of the lines are heavily eroded, making them difficult to make out with the naked eye, but the researchers used equipment including a 3-D scanner to sketch out the pattern. Most of the drawings seem to depict llamas, the team said. "We have found 41 geoglyphs in fiscal 2013 and 2014 combined," Sakai said. "There are no other areas concentrated with this many examples. Yet with both urban areas and farmland encroaching on the drawings, they are under the threat of being destroyed without being recognized as geoglyphs."

The university plans to provide information to the Peruvian government's Culture Ministry, which it is partnered with, along with the city government of Nazca in the hopes of preserving the geoglyphs.

Yonezawa, Nobuyoshi. 2015. “Yamagata University team discovers 24 ancient geoglyphs in Peru”. The Asahi Shimbun. Posted: July 8, 2015. Available online: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201507080063

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