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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 Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization

Recently, in the northeast of Siberia, archaeologists have discovered the sites of ancient people thirty thousand years old. Before that, it was believed that the first people appeared there fourteen, fifteen millennia ago, that is, approximately when mammoths, cave lions and woolly rhinos disappeared. 

People were still considered to be responsible for the disappearance of these animals. Allegedly, the ancient people, who lived by hunting and gathering, mercilessly exterminated these animals for several centuries until they completely destroyed their population.

The decline in the number of rhinos and other animals does not coincide with the appearance of humans in this region, said the professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics Love Dalen.

New archaeological data refute this theory and testify in favor of some kind of global catastrophe that happened about 13 thousand years ago.

According to one of the versions, regular global cataclysms on Earth occur due to a regular change of poles (the Janibekov effect).

The Janibekov effect is the intermediate axis theorem, or the tennis racket theorem in classical mechanics – a statement about the instability of the rotation of a rigid body about the second principal axis of inertia. (Wikipedia)

The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization
The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization

It is believed that periodically, in the interval from 600 to 650 thousand years, the earth’s poles change, which is accompanied by global catastrophes. This is usually accompanied by powerful volcanic eruptions, intensified seething of mud springs, increased degassing, earthquakes and tsunamis, which ultimately leads to fatal changes in the climate and topography of the planet’s surface.

These practically proven facts about the global catastrophe that happened on Earth 13 thousand years ago also indirectly confirm the possible existence of an ancient (antediluvian) civilization in the northern part of the planet.

There is almost no intelligible evidence of the high development of antediluvian civilizations. There are controversial and unrecognized by science artifacts, legends, myths, traditions, strange anomalous areas, the poorly explored bottom of the ocean, probable places for mining stone and other minerals. 

All of this is either poorly researched or deliberately rejected and declared falsification. There are unique ancient structures made of stone, and their design features, construction methods and quality of stone processing are so high that sometimes they even surpass the capabilities of modern civilization.

The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization
The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization

According to the testimony of some enthusiastic researchers, namely, they are trying to unravel the mysteries of history and return historical science itself to the mainstream of truth, traces of some ancient civilization have been preserved on the Kola Peninsula. 

Most likely – Atlantis, (or Hyperborea), because somewhere in this area supposedly was the legendary island of Atlantis.

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A fierce embodiment of Earth: The Mayan structure used for direct dialogue with the gods

Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) working in Guatemala have found evidence of the ritual significance of the classic Maya pairings. They found a structure the likes of which had never been found in Mesoamerica.

According to EurekAlert, archaeologists visited the city of Ksultun, where an ancient bathhouse was found earlier. She received the name Los Sapos. Scientists have long known that the Maya built a kind of steam room – their baths, according to their principle of operation, were designed for profuse sweating.

These baths were believed to have religious significance. They also sent here for treatment, brought women in labor. However, new research showed that the importance of such structures was even more important. The fact is that the Los Sapos bath, dating from the early classical period (250-550 AD), turned out to be unlike any other ancient Mesoamerican bath.

The researchers concluded that this was not just a place for direct dialogue with the gods. The Maya considered this bath itself an amphibian goddess. Outside, near the entrance to it, scientists found an image of this little-known deity. The goddess is depicted squatting with legs on which iguanas and reed toads sit.

“No other structure in Mesoamerica – a bathhouse or anything else – is like this building,” says STRI archaeologist Ashley Sharp. the amphibian that personified this bath.”

According to lead author of the study, Mary Clarke, the name of this goddess remains undeciphered, although it is written next to the image. Preliminary analysis of the inscription led scientists to speculate that this goddess was responsible for the cycles of pregnancy. The connection between the ideas of the birth of children and the figures of reptiles is often traced in the Maya of the classical period.

She also noted that the Los Sapos baths have been actively used by the Sultun community for about 300 years. But then something important and frightening happened. The fact is that in the “doorway” archaeologists unearthed the remains of an adult man who was buried there around 600 AD.

The analysis showed that after that no one used the bath for another 300 years. Only three centuries after the funeral, someone re-entered this structure. It is interesting that this person or several people had a strictly defined goal – they dug out a burial place and took with them part of the remains.

The rest of them they put in another place, and in the vacated grave they lit a fire. Subsequently, they repeatedly put various offerings to the gods in this grave. Dogs, birds, reed toads and iguanas were sacrificed. Archaeologists found the remains of a child in this pit, as well as numerous stone tools and ceramic shards.

“Archaeologists often find clusters of artifacts that were probably dedicated to places of worship, but rarely is there such an obvious connection between artifacts and objects,” Sharpe says. “From the image on the outer wall of Los Zapos, we know it was a ‘steam room’ “It was a rare occasion for us to associate offerings with the role that this structure played in the life of the community.”

According to the authors of the work, the offerings were probably an attempt to seek help from the goddess who personified Los Sapos. Moreover, it could even be the last attempt to please a supernatural being and prevent the loss of their lands, which were abandoned shortly after the Mayan collapse in 900 AD.

“This supernatural figure is the fierce embodiment of Earth,” Clarke concludes. “When she is unhappy, she can take revenge or deny people the things they need to survive. they negotiated with this goddess for their survival. “

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Secrets of the Forbidden City are being solved by modern archaeologists

If we compare the millennia during which palaces were built and restored in China with an epic novel, then the Forbidden City in Beijing is its last impressive chapter.

An exhibition celebrating the 600th anniversary of the completion of the Forbidden City opened in Beijing on September 10.  Photo: Jiang Dong / CHINA DAILYAn exhibition celebrating the 600th anniversary of the completion of the Forbidden City opened in Beijing on September 10. Photo: Jiang Dong / CHINA DAILY

The previous pages of this story, although no less amazing, were partially or even almost completely lost during the rise and fall of dynasties and turned into ruins, similar to archaeological puzzles. Experts are still solving them. However, in the heart of Beijing, there is a 720,000-square-meter palace complex built of wood and clay bricks – the last surviving structure of its kind in the world. This area, which served as an imperial palace from 1420 to 1911 and where 24 emperors once lived, celebrates 600 years since the completion of construction this year.

In honor of this event, the Umen Gate galleries at the entrance to the Imperial Palace Museum became a kind of lobby, where visitors to the exhibition “Eternal Splendor: Six Centuries in the Forbidden City” enter. It will run until November 15th.

“There is so much that has happened in 600 years that can be said,” says Zhao Peng, director of the museum’s architectural heritage department and chief curator of the exhibition. “It is best to focus on the ‘city’ itself, that is, on architecture: to understand how this place was formed and modified … This is the crystallized wisdom and talent of the ancient Chinese. “

Yet it is not easy to select just 450 items, including structural elements and imperial relics, to reveal a panorama of such architectural splendor. In order to chronologically show how the complex originated, expanded and developed with the help of the exhibits, 18 significant years were selected from the entire centuries-old history. 

“These time periods help to see a fuller historical picture,” Zhao says.

In 1406, Zhu Di, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), proposed to move the capital from Nanjing (today it is the administrative center of Jiangsu Province) to Beijing in order to better guard the northern borders. Zhu Di himself lived in Beijing as a prince.The Forbidden City was built according to rules derived from centuries of Chinese history.

The construction was completed in 1420, after almost ten years of preparation and three years of active work. The following year, the capital was officially moved to Beijing.

“A striking feature of the Forbidden City is how, despite the changing eras, certain architectural forms are strictly adhered to,” Zhao says. “This reflects traditional Chinese thought that emphasizes the importance of ritual and harmony between people and the sky.”

The Forbidden City was built according to rules derived from centuries of Chinese history. The exhibition presents “Notes on the Study of Crafts” (Kaogongji) – a treatise that spells out the basics of building a palace. It was published during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and is part of the classic Chinese work Zhou Rituals (Zhouli) on rituals and notions of order.

“Notes on the Study of Crafts” regulate the symmetrical layouts of the capital cities, in the center of which on the north-south axis should be a palace. The historic districts of modern Beijing, including the Forbidden City, fully comply with this rule.

“Finally, this ideal layout, which has been guided for nearly 2,000 years, has been faithfully embodied in Beijing,” Zhao says.

Following the rituals is reflected in the architectural details.

For example, only the roof of the Hall of Higher Harmony – the most prestigious structure in the palace, where the most important ceremonies took place – can be decorated with ten figures of deified beings. The simpler the roof is decorated, the lower the status of the building.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony also has 11 rooms – more than any other building in the complex. (In ancient Chinese architecture, a room was a square space between four columns.)

Roof shape is another important indicator by which you can determine the status of a building. For example, the roof of the Hall of Higher Harmony is four-pitched and two-tier, its ends protrude and bend upwards. Only buildings of the highest status can have such a roof.

In 1734, Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) issued an official guide to the construction of palaces. The book, which is over 2,700 pages, spells out all the architectural criteria, including the size of the columns and the decoration of the roofs. According to Zhao, this is an important milestone in the history of the fusion of rituals with Chinese architecture.

The Forbidden City in Beijing has two older brothers. When Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty and became emperor, he made the capital of his hometown, which is today in Fengyang County, Anhui Province. However, the construction of a huge palace complex for unknown reasons suddenly stopped, and Zhu Yuanzhang decided to build an imperial city in Nanjing.

The Gate of Supreme Harmony is one of the most visited attractions of the palace complex. Photo: Courtesy of CHINA DAILY

Both imperial cities fell into ruins, but some important details have survived to this day, such as stone fences and tiles in the galleries of the Umen Gate. They help to imagine what the early architecture of the Forbidden City might have looked like.

“The original appearance of buildings can often be seen in the paintings,” says the deputy director of the architectural heritage department of the museum, Di Yajing.

No matter how the new emperors followed the precepts of their ancestors, it is clear that they wanted to decorate their new home. “The Ming emperors preferred simple yet stately architecture, and therefore large buildings were built during their reign,” Di says. “However, the Qing emperors tended to be more sophisticated.”To understand whether the pictures correspond to historical reality, you need to conduct additional checks

Sometimes this was a forced decision, since it was difficult to find giant pieces of valuable timber to renovate the palace. However, the Qing emperors demonstrated their wealth and status with handicrafts of the most skillful work. Thanks to Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), who adored fine arts, this trend reached its peak. In 1766, he ordered the construction of the Palace of Serenity and Longevity in the Forbidden City, where he planned to live after leaving the throne. The garden of this palace has become a real treasure trove of exceptional decorative objects.

The lacquered gauze fabric, which used to be placed on the window, allows visitors to appreciate its uniqueness, because the garden has never been opened to the public before. The decor of this silk combines techniques such as paper cutting, gilding, dyeing and varnishing. This means that several artisans worked on its creation at once. 12-ply fabric is paper thin.

“We tried to replicate this decor, but even modern manufacturing techniques did not help us,” Dee says. “This lost technique reminds us that cultural heritage must be carefully preserved.”

Complex renovation of the main buildings of the complex has been going on since 2002. Although it was originally planned to be completed by a round date this year, in the end the architects decided not to rush to complete the work with full responsibility and respect for history.

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