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Ten Amazing And Mysterious Geoglyphs From The Ancient World

The most well-known geoglyphs in the world are undoubtedly the Nazca Lines of coastal Peru. Yet, scattered across the globe are thousands of other geoglyphs that are equally as impressive.  The earth carvings remain one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries. Despite a plethora of research on these amazing creations, the purpose of geoglyphs continues to elude researchers and remains a matter of conjecture. Some scientists believe they are linked to the heavens, representing constellations in the night sky. Other experts believe that the lines played a role in pilgrimage, with one walking across them to reach a sacred place. Yet another idea is that the lines are connected with water, something vital to life yet hard to get in the desert. Here we examine ten alluring geoglyphs from across the planet.

The enigmatic Nazca lines of Peru

The enigmatic Nazca lines of Peru

Located in the arid Peruvian coastal plain, some 400 km south of Lima, the geoglyphs of Nazca cover an incredible 450 km2. They are among archaeology’s greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometres long.  The startling feature of the Nazca geoglyphs is that they can only really be appreciated from the air, raising questions about how and why they were created. The Nazca lines number in their thousands and the vast majority of them date from 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region. The earliest lines, created with piled up stones, date as far back as 500 BC.  Although the lines can in fact be seen from the ground, there is nothing remotely exciting about seeing them from this perspective. However, from the air, their true beauty and the wonders of their creation can be realised. Despite a plethora of research on these amazing creations, the purpose of the lines continues to elude researchers and remains a matter of conjecture. Some scientists believe they are linked to the heavens with some representing constellations in the night sky. However, research has found that there are just as many lines not related to constellations as those that are, meaning that this theory cannot provide a complete explanation. Other experts believe that the lines played a role in pilgrimage, with one walking across them to reach a sacred place such as Cahuachi and its adobe pyramids. Yet another idea is that the lines are connected with water, something vital to life yet hard to get in the desert, and may have played a part in water-based rituals. However, the fact the lines have remained enigmatic have promoted alternative theorists to float ideas about extraterrestrial communication or ‘messages to the gods’.

The puzzling case of the Atacama Giant

The puzzling case of the Atacama Giant

The geoglyphs of the Atacama Desert in South America are less familiar than the world-renowned Nazca lines, yet they are far more numerous in number, more varied in style, and cover a much larger area. One of the most intriguing and controversial of the Atacama desert geoglyphs is the so-called Atacama Giant, which continues to stir debate regarding its true meaning and interpretation.  The Atacama Giant is an anthropomorphic geoglyph measuring 119 metres in height, making it the largest known geoglyph in the world. It is characterized by a square head and highly stylized long legs. Four lines can be seen coming out from the top of the giant’s head, as well as on each side of its head. There has been no shortage of explanations and theories to account for the strange features of this enormous geoglyph. According to one interpretation, it was a sort of astronomical calendar that indicated the movement of the moon. With this knowledge, it is said that the day, the crop cycle, and the seasons could be calculated. Another interpretation maintains that the Atacama Giant represents a deity worshipped by the local population. Other theories suggest extra-terrestrial visitations, marking of a pilgrimage route, or that it reflects an ancient type of language.  Although the function of the geoglyphs of the Atacama Desert still remain a mystery, it is undeniable that they held great importance to the people who lived in the region. It is hoped that the geoglyphs will be preserved for future generations, and that further research may one day uncover their secrets.

Over 50 ancient geoglyphs, including swastika, discovered in Kazakhstan

Over 50 ancient geoglyphs, including swastika, discovered in Kazakhstan

Archaeologists are calling them the Nazca lines of Kazakhstan – more than 50 giant geoglyphs formed with earthen mounds and timber found stretched across the landscape in northern Kazakhstan. They are designed in a variety of geometric shapes, including crosses, squares, rings, and even a swastika, an ancient symbol that has been in use for at least 12,000 years. The geoglyphs, which are very difficult to see on the ground, were first spotted on Google Earth. Since then, a team of archaeologists from Kazakhstan and Lithuania, have investigated the giant structures using aerial photography and ground-penetrating radar. Their results revealed a wide variety of shapes ranging from 90 to 400 metres in diameter, mostly made of earthen mounds, but one – the swastika – was made using timber.  Researchers have not yet dated the structures but their characteristics suggest they are around 2,000 years old. “As of today, we can say only one thing — the geoglyphs were built by ancient people. By whom and for what purpose, remains a mystery,” said archaeologists Irina Shevnina and Andrew Logvin, of Kostanay University, in an email to Live Science.

Ancient rock lines created by enigmatic Paracas culture predate Nazca geoglyphs

Ancient rock lines created by enigmatic Paracas culture predate Nazca geoglyphs

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed the discovery of a complex set of geoglyphs constructed by the mysterious Paracas people of Peru.  The archaeological features, which date back 2,300 years, were found to be aligned to the sunset during the winter solstice, and are believed to have been created to mark ceremonial mounds and residential sites.  Charles Stanish, the director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, and his team, found 71 geoglyph lines or segments, 353 rock cairns, rocks forming circles or rectangles, two U-shaped mounds, and one point at which a series of lines converged in a circle of rays. Many of the archaeological features were found to have astronomical alignments, others point to special places in the landscape, like some of the ancient pyramids in the region.  The research team hypothesised that the lines served diverse purposes – some appear to have marked time, others may have attracted participants to attend important events, and yet others could have pointed the way to sacred structures.

The ‘Works of Old Men’: Geoglyphs of the Middle East

The ‘Works of Old Men’: Geoglyphs of the Middle East

Stretching from Syria to Saudi Arabia, thousands of ancient geoglyphs built from stone stretch across the desert plains. Known as the “works of old men”, some display a kite-like structure while others have wheel-like designs.  Similar to the Nazca Lines of Peru, they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with much diversity between structures. The geoglyphs are virtually invisible to those on the ground, but can be easily discerned by those flying overhead. The local Bedouins refer to them as the “works of old men” but have been unable to provide further insights into their creators.

Some of the circular structures contain two spokes that form a bar pointing in the same direction in which the sun rises and sets, while others contain spokes that do not appear to have any astrological meaning. It is believed that one type of structure, referred to as a “kite”, was actually used as part of a system for hunting. The long stone walls form a wide open area, which then funnels into a smaller, enclosed area. Wild animals would funnel from the larger area through the neck into the narrow area which was called the “killing floor.” This would make it easier to hunt wild animals, as their movement would be constricted once they reached the killing floor. There are an estimated 2000 kite structures across the deserts of Syria, Jordan, Southern Israel and Saudi Arabia illustrating that this hunting method must have been widely used.

Wari geoglyph similar to Nazca lines found in Peru

Wari geoglyph similar to Nazca lines found in Peru

Archaeologists recently carrying out excavations in Arequipa in southern Peru were surprised to find a large geoglyph which resembles the famous Nazca lines.  The massive geoglyph is the first of its kind discovered in the region. It has been linked to the pre-Inca Wari culture (1200-1300 AD), although it is not clear how the researchers reached this conclusion. The geoglyph, which measures 60 metres by 40 metres, consists of a large rectangular image with geometric shapes and lines within it. If indeed the newly-discovered geoglyph was created by the Wari people, the finding may serve to shed new light on their cultural practices, which could have been influenced by the Nazca people. The Wari (Spanish: Huari) civilization flourished from about 600 AD in the Andean highlands and forged a complex society widely regarded today as ancient Peru’s first empire.  Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world’s great cities of the time. Relatively little is known about the Wari because no written record remains, although thousands of archaeological sites reveal much about their lives.

Children helped build mysterious 6,000-year-old moose geoglyph in Russia

Children helped build mysterious 6,000-year-old moose geoglyph in Russia

Recent research revealed that an enormous geoglyph of a moose in the Ural Mountains, Russia, is among the oldest examples of land art in the world, dating back some 6,000 years.  The moose measures approximately 275 meters (900 feet) in length (at its longest point), and was formed by ditches 30 centimeters (12 inches) deep and between 4.5 meters (15 feet) and 10 meters (32 feet) wide. The ditches were dug out and then filled with stones, with larger stones usually placed along the edges and smaller stones used to fill in the middle. The hooves of the moose were filled in with a mixture of clay and crushed stones. An analysis of stone tools found at the site revealed a style of lithic reduction that corresponds to the period between 3,000 and 4,000 BC. Perhaps one of the most interesting discoveries to emerge from recent excavation work at the site, is that an examination of more than 150 tools found around the geoglyph suggests that children were involved in its construction, as well as adults.  “But it was not a kind of slave labour of children,” said Stanislav Grigoryev, a senior researcher from the Chelyabinsk History and Archaeology Institute. “They were involved to share common values, to join something important to all the people.”

Giant stone circles in the Middle East puzzle archaeologists

Giant stone circles in the Middle East puzzle archaeologists

Huge stone circles in the Middle East have been imaged from the air, but researchers remain puzzled as to why they exist, and who made them. Eleven big circles dot the landscape across Jordan and Syria. They date back at least 2,000 years, but may even be pre-historic, created in a time before the invention of writing.  The geoglyphs are very large, some of them approximately 1,300 feet in diameter, and are composed of short, stone walls built from local rocks. Researchers say the circles would have required some planning, as many of the circles are very precise. It was likely there was some sort of “architect” to head up each project.  Researchers question whether the circles were used to maintain animal herds, or may have been areas of burial, but so far no contemporary remains – or any obvious practical uses – have been recovered or gleaned from the sites. Thousands of other ancient structures have been found across the Middle East, such as wheels, walls, pendants (lines to and from burial cairns) and kites (stone walls used to drive animals into kill areas). Much like the enigmatic Nasca lines of Peru – giant geoglyphs half a world away from Jordan – the intentions of the builders, and the purpose of the designs remain, for now, a very baffling mystery.

The unknown origins of the incredible Sajama Lines of Bolivia

The unknown origins of the incredible Sajama Lines of Bolivia

In Western Bolivia, thousands and thousands of perfectly straight paths are etched into the ground, creating an amazing sight. These lines were carved into the ground over a period of 3,000 years by indigenous people living near the volcano Sajama. It is unknown exactly when or why they were constructed, and it is hard to imagine how the construction of something of such magnitude could pre-date modern technology. The Sajama lines cover an area of approximately 22,525 square kilometers, or 8,700 square miles. They are perfectly straight lines, formed into a web or network. Each individual line is 1-3 meters, or 3-10 feet wide. The longest lines measure 20 kilometers, or 12 miles in length.  The creation of these lines without the aid of modern technology is a marvel. They were etched into the ground by scraping vegetation to the side, and scouring away dark surface material consisting of soil and oxidized rock, to reveal a light subsurface. The precision of the Sajama lines is remarkable. While many of these sacred lines extend as far as ten or twenty kilometers (and perhaps further), they all seem to maintain a remarkable straightness despite rugged topography and natural obstacles. Some believe that the indigenous people used the lines as a navigational tool during sacred pilgrimages. Wak’as (shrines), chullpas (burial towers) and hamlets are interspersed among the lines, creating a cultural landscape.

The mysterious prehistoric geoglyph of the Paracas Candelabra

The mysterious prehistoric geoglyph of the Paracas Candelabra

The Paracas Candelabra is a prehistoric geoglyph found in the Paracas Peninsula at Pisco Bay, Peru. With a large, branchlike appearance, the purpose and meaning of the Candelabra remains unknown. The Paracas Candelabra is estimated to be approximately 595 – 800 feet tall and can be seen from as far as 12 miles out at sea. The geoglyph was created by cutting two feet deep into the hardened soil, with rocks placed around the figure.  The shape of the geoglyph is mysterious and somewhat difficult to describe. Some have likened it to a cactus plant, while others believe it looks more like a three-branched candlestick, hence the name “candelabra.” The meaning and purpose of the Paracas Candelabra are unknown to this day.  The Conquistadors supposedly believed the geoglyph represents the Holy Trinity, and took it as a good omen and a sign that they should proceed with their quest to conquer and Christianize the locals, although no clear historical records authenticate this assertion. Some believe the Paracas Candelabra is a representation of a hallucinogenic plant called Jimson weed, while others have suggested that the geoglyph represents a lightning rod of the god Viracocha, who was the great creator god in the pre-Inca and Inca mythology in the Andes region of South America. The true meaning and purpose of the Paracas Candelabra remain elusive to this day, and may be forever lost to history. Nevertheless, the enormous geoglyph continues to attract people from all over the world who marvel at its sheer size and wonder about its origin and creation.

By April Holloway

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Ancient

The burning of ancient Jerusalem by Babylon was proven with the help of a magnetic field

Israeli scientists with the help of a magnetic field were able to prove that Jerusalem in ancient times was burned by the Babylonian Empire. This approach can be applied in other archaeological studies in order to clarify the time and causes of catastrophic events in the past. 

Using data from the Earth’s magnetic field, archaeologists were able to confirm the fact of the burning of Jerusalem by the army of Babylon in the 6th century BC. 

Archaeologists, conducting excavations in the Jerusalem National Park, discovered the ruins of a large building several stories high with traces of a strong fire and fragments of utensils of that time. Analysis of the ceramic fragments showed that the structure was destroyed in the same year as the Temple of Solomon in 586 BC.

In addition, the scientists took samples of the floor covering in order to measure the magnetic field encoded in the fragment. According to co-author of the study, Yoav Vaknin, the scientists had two goals: to measure the direction and magnitude of the magnetic field on the day Jerusalem was destroyed and to understand what this data has to say about the history of the place.

According to the results of the study, the scientists found that the temperature during the fire in the building was above 500 degrees Celsius, as a result of which the floor of the upper floor could not withstand such loads and collapsed. In general, scientists were able to confirm that in the VI century BC Jerusalem suffered great destruction. 

“Even without measurements of the magnetic field, we could assume that this grand structure was burned at the same time as the First Temple, but they showed several important details ,” said study author Yoav Vaknin.

Measuring magnetic data is not a common practice for archaeologists, the researchers said. This was a complex work, as a result of which a unique method of decrypting data through measuring the magnetic field was created. 

“Yoav was able to decipher the magnetic code and provide important information for history, archeology and geomagnetic research ,” said Ron Shaar of the Hebrew University Institute of Earth Sciences.

The possibility of linking the destruction of Jerusalem to the earth’s magnetic field seemed unrealistic, Vaknin noted. Nevertheless, the developed method made it possible to learn more about the catastrophe in Jerusalem.

Recall that Jerusalem in 586 BC was captured by the Babylonian state and its king Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians devastated the city, destroyed the city walls and burned Solomon’s Temple. Most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were killed, the rest were taken captive and driven into slavery in Babylonia.

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Ancient pyramid found in China- the same age as the Great Pyramid in Egypt

In China, archaeologists in the north of Shaanxi province excavated the city of Simao, previously unknown to science, which possessed not only the most powerful fortress walls, but also a huge pyramid built at the same time as the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

The details of this discovery, already called one of the greatest in archeology in China, are given by National Geographic magazine. For many years, the ruins of this city were considered part of the Great Wall of China. And only the excavations carried out in recent years proved that it was a separate city, and very powerful.

It all began with the fact that local residents began to find jade discs, blades and a scepter in the ruins. But there is no jade in this region. The very first field season allowed the excavation of the powerful fortress walls. Later it turned out that they surrounded a massive pyramid 70 meters high.

Carbon dating has determined that Shimao (as the place is now called, but the original name of the city is unknown) was built about 4,300 years ago, that is, almost 2,000 years before the construction of the most ancient section of the Great Wall and 500 years before the Chinese civilization settled. in the Central Plains.

The pyramid is practically the same age as the city, that is, it was built at the same time as the Great Pyramid at Giza, but was half the size. Its purpose was completely different. This city was built on the hills above the Tuway River. Bloody wars have been going on in this region for thousands of years. Therefore, the city was powerfully fortified.

The pyramid, according to scientists, was one of the elements of defense. It was erected on the highest of the hills, it consisted of 20 tiers and was clearly visible from anywhere in the city. The upper tier was arranged for living, and it was probably used only by the elite.

The upper tier included a luxurious complex with an area of ​​about 81 thousand square meters. m. with its own water tank, craft workshops and temples. Researchers believe that no one lived there permanently. But during the wars, the elite rose to the upper tier to protect themselves from the enemy.

From the Simao pyramid, kilometers of various walls spread out in all directions throughout the city, forming a powerful defensive line. Scientists estimate that only 125,000 cubic meters of stone were needed to build these inner city walls. This compares to the combined volume of the 50 Olympic swimming pools.

How the people of the Neolithic were able to solve the difficult task of construction is still a mystery. According to archaeologists, the population of the city was from 10 to 20 thousand people. At the same time, the city was huge in its time.

It is estimated that the total length of the fortress walls exceeded 10 km. The city had a large sanctuary decorated with frescoes and jade artifacts. In it they found terrible evidence of human sacrifice. Also, archaeologists have discovered 70 stunning relief sculptures made of stone – snakes and mythical monsters.

They resemble the iconography of the late Bronze Age in China. Interestingly, there is no mention of this city in any written source or oral legend. Meanwhile, Simao is currently the largest known settlement of the Neolithic era in China – its area exceeds 4.04 thousand hectares.

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What secrets of the Mayan queen were discovered by a new decoding of ancient records

The Maya are a mysterious people who built their civilization in Mexico long before the coming of the Aztecs. He left behind many books and other inscriptions. Archaeologists can now decipher the documents of the era, and each time new secrets are revealed to them.

An important discovery for Mexico

The city of Coba, once built by the Mayans on the Yucatan Peninsula, has long attracted the attention of archaeologists. It was a large polis, full of pyramidal temples with decorations and inscriptions and connected by many roads with other polis. 

Traces of culture have not yet been able to destroy even the local aggressive jungle, and archaeologists have struggled for decades to understand the history of the city itself and its place in the general history of the Maya.

To date, they have managed to reconstruct the dynasty of rulers of the city-state. It consisted of fourteen people who were in charge of the policy from about 500 to 780. ad. The dynasty was founded by a man named Junpik Tok, but most surprisingly, among the rulers is a woman known as Lady Yopaat.

What secrets of the Mayan queen was opened by a new decoding of ancient records
After the Maya, there are many drawings and inscriptions in stone.

To understand why this discovery is so significant, one must have an understanding of the cultures of America’s major civilizations.In almost all of them, women were in the same humiliated condition as in most cities of Ancient Greece. 

It seems that even the women of royal families were not perceived as something that special. Although it is known that the sisters of the Great Incas were their co-rulers, the ladies did not rule on their own even there. Until now, only three rulers were known on the territory of Mexico.

Archaeologists almost missed this chance

Archaeologist Maria José Con Uribe of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico notes that the establishment of rulers and the sequence of their rule is important in order to understand the historical connections of Coba and other cities and regions.

 Fortunately, a lot of inscriptions dedicated to these rulers remained on the stone ruins of Koba (Mayan books are often so damaged that it is impossible to leaf through them for decoding).

Unfortunately, these ruins were in such a state that archaeologists did not dare to touch them for a long time, so as not to destroy them completely. Modern technology made it possible to study the inscriptions with minimal contact with the ruins that were decorated with letters. 

Deciphering the inscriptions was like a detective investigation. So, in order to better see the half-erased letters, they were photographed with lighting at different angles and then the photographs were superimposed on each other so that the shadows indicated contours that were already invisible to the eye. 

Often, it was impossible to come up to take a picture, and it was necessary to invent something. Archaeologists had to show a lot of ingenuity.

What secrets of the Mayan queen was opened by a new decoding of ancient records
Photo from the website of the institute.

Surprisingly, among the reasons why archaeologists took up the deciphering so late was also the belief that among the policies of this area there cannot be any where many hieroglyphs can be found. That is, scientists did not see the point in deploying large-scale research using the necessary technologies. 

They did not even try to find more inscriptions than they could be seen at a glance. The northern Mayan cities were considered “not very literate”, and new research refutes this long-held belief.

This resembles the situation with the drawings of primitive people in caves. As you know, archaeologists of the nineteenth century, working with cave sites of ancient Europeans, practically ignored these drawings, because they believed that for so long in the past people could not draw – so the multi-colored lines on the ceilings and walls of the caves cannot tell anything about their life. It took a long time for the drawings to attract the attention of scientists.

What the Mayan queens are known for

As for Yopaat, as far as archaeologists can judge, she ruled for quite a long time – about forty years – at the beginning of the seventh century and significantly strengthened the position and influence of her city in the region. That is, her rise and reign were not a brief episode in a series of violent upheavals, as was the case in some Muslim countries in the Middle Ages.

In addition to her, as you know, the warlike queen Kauil Ahau ruled in Kobe, but she already belongs to another, later dynasty. As you know, Kahuil Ahau, competing with the influence of Chichen Itza – another city-state – built the longest road of its era, and also conquered a polis called Yahuna.

What secrets of the Mayan queen was opened by a new decoding of ancient records
Image of Kahuil Ahau

Another famous ruler is considered Mistress Cable, or Mistress Lily Hands, who ruled at about the same time as Kauil Ahau, but in Calakmula. She reigned for about twenty years. 

Although there were no high-profile cases during her reign, the city flourished under her leadership. Two more Maya queens bore the romantic names Mistress of the Heart of the Windy Place and Mistress of the Sixth Heaven.

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