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More than 140 Nazca Lines are discovered in Peruvian desert
The newly discovered carvings, or geoglyphs, depict human forms and a broad variety of animals, including camelids, a group of mammals that includes llamas and alpacas; cats; fish; and snakes, according to the research group from Yamagata University.

by Iliana Magra



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- A huge carving of a monkey with its tail twirled in a spiral; vast, geometric images of a condor and a hummingbird; an immense spider — the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines in Peru have awed and mystified modern viewers since they were first seen from the air last century.

Now, 143 more images have been discovered, etched into a coastal desert plain about 250 miles southeast of Lima, the Peruvian capital. The Japanese researchers who found them combined on-the-ground work with the most modern of tools: satellite photography, three-dimensional imaging and, in one case, artificial intelligence.

The newly discovered carvings, or geoglyphs, depict human forms and a broad variety of animals, including camelids, a group of mammals that includes llamas and alpacas; cats; fish; and snakes, according to the research group from Yamagata University.

The shapes, some of which are believed to date from at least 100 B.C., were mainly identified in the western side of the area through fieldwork — picking through pottery remnants, stones and soil — and by analyzing high-resolution imagery, the university said in a statement last week. The largest are more than 300 feet long.

But one geoglyph was revealed as a result of a collaboration between the university research team and Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence system.

When the university and IBM Japan analyzed data with software called Watson Machine Learning Community Edition, they identified various candidates for “biomorphic” shapes. The university said the researchers then chose one of them and, after conducting work on the ground in 2019, discovered a previously unknown, 16-foot figure of a human standing on two feet.

The Nazca Lines cover an area of about 173 square miles and are thought to have been scratched into the earth from 500 B.C. to A.D. 500. The shapes are best seen from the air, and many are impossible to discern from the ground.

UNESCO has designated the Nazca Lines a World Heritage site that bears witness to “the culture and magical-religious tradition and beliefs,” artistic and technical skills, and land use techniques of societies in pre-Columbian South America.

The new findings are categorized into two types that differ in scale and purpose.

The representational group, depicting animals and anthropomorphic figures, includes figures that usually span less than 165 feet, according to the university. The other, more abstract and geometric group, includes much larger shapes. The longest one stretches more than 330 feet.

© 2019 The New York Times Company










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