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Researchers find 168 more ancient images at Peru's Nazca Lines

This handout photo provided by Peru's Ministry of Culture-Nasca-Palpa shows a feline figure on a hillside in Nazca, Peru, on Oct. 9, 2020.
Jhony Islas
This handout photo provided by Peru's Ministry of Culture-Nasca-Palpa shows a feline figure on a hillside in Nazca, Peru, on Oct. 9, 2020.

Archaeologists have found 168 geoglyphs in and around the Peruvian city of Nazca, adding to the extensive, centuries-old collection of ancient and enigmatic images that make up the Nazca Lines.

The new findings add to the 190 known geoglyphs at the UNESCO World Heritage site, located along the southern coast of Peru. The markings, discovered by researchers at Japan's Yamagata University in collaboration with Peruvian archaeologist Jorge Olano, are thought to date to between 100 B.C. and A.D. 300.

The depictions include humans, birds, killer whales, cats and snakes. The first geoglyphs, largely other images of animals or linear designs, were drawn into the ground thousands of years ago. Inhabitants removed black stones from the ground's surface to expose the underlying white sandy surface to create their designs.

"They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world and are unmatched in its extent, magnitude, quantity, size, diversity and ancient tradition to any similar work in the world," according to UNESCO. The collection stretches across an area of about 280 square miles.

The work to uncover the geoglyphs involved using aerial photos and drones from June 2019 to February 2020, the university said. The results of this research will be used in future AI-based work to study the Nazca Lines and for their future conservation and protection.

The site has fallen victim to vandalism in the past.

In 2018, a truck driver ignored warning signs and drove over the famous site, damaging three of the geoglyphs.

In 2014, Greenpeace environmental activists entered the highly restricted area and placed giant, yellow letters that read, "Time for change! The future is renewable. Greenpeace," near the Nazca Lines. The group later apologized to the people of Peru.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.

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