Nazca Lines Searchers Discover 100+ New Figures

Earlier this month, a research team at Peru’s Nazca Lines announced the site’s world-famous collection of ancient art had just grown — significantly.

Archaeologists with the Yamagata University Institute discovered 168 new geoglyphs at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, almost doubling the previous known total of 190.

The team conducted the study from June 2019 to February 2020 near the provincial capital of Nazca. They primarily found the new glyphs using aerial surveys and drone images.

The new images depict animals and humans, which adds volume if not subject matter to the Lines as we knew them already — camels, birds, killer whales, cats, spiders, and snakes all accompany humans among the varyingly massive earthen works.

Yamagata’s recent study mostly found small geoglyphs. Of the 168 total new images, 163 measure around 10m across. But the biggest works at the site stretch up to 370m wide.

How the Lines were made

The shapes’ creators used a straightforward method to craft them. Dark, sunburnt rock dominates the Nazca Pampa’s surface. The artists who built the Lines simply moved the dark rock aside, which exposed a lighter blonde layer below.

When you consider how long the Nazca Lines have remained visible on the planet, that simplicity becomes amazing. UNESCO estimates construction could have started as early as 500 BC. (Yamagata University’s research team estimates their recent additions date to between 100 BC. – 300 AD.)

Seventy-seven of the total 358 Nazca Lines geoglyphs exist within an archaeological park the Peruvian Ministry of Culture designated in 2017.

Vandals have tampered with the 400-km-wide site in the past.

In 2018, a truck driver barrelled past warning signs and damaged three of the geoglyphs. And in 2014, Greenpeace activists entered a restricted area at the site and placed large yellow letters that read, “Time for change! The future is renewable. Greenpeace,” near the ancient works. The group later apologized to the Peruvian people.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.