Strange ‘Circular Geoglyphs’ Near Nazca Lines Most Likely Built by Ancient Travelers

It is believed that ancient travelers who crossed the Nazca desert thousands of years ago created mysterious sprawling circular structures during pit stops.

Image Credit: Bikoulis et al, Antiquity

A group of archaeologists discovered that the strange circular geoglyphs near the famous Nazca Lines, located in the department of Ica, in southern Peru, were probably built by travelers on the move who passed through the paths of the area a long time ago.

The Nazca lines were initially ‘discovered’ around 1927 when Airlines started operating over Peru when passengers described strange lines, figures, and shapes on the ground.

Experts argue that these mysterious geoglyphs were created by the ancient Nazca people; an ancient culture which flourished in the region between the 1st and 8th century A.D. 

The lines were formed by the careful removal of the reddish iron-oxide pebbles that make up the desert surface. Once exposed, the underlying dirt, which contains high amounts of lime, hardened and resistant to erosion.

Circular Glyphs

The circular geoglyphs, which were discovered in 2016, are located along ancient ‘transport routes’, said Justin Jennings, curator of New World archeology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, and one of the leaders of a group of scientists who investigate long-distance transport in Peru in the time before Spanish colonization, according to Live Science.

According to a study published in the Journal Antiquity, the ancient ‘Circular Geoglyphs’ may have been created many centuries ago, from as early as 200 A.D. to as late as 1,400 A.D. They range from 3 to 55 meters in diameter.

“People are doing these geoglyphs ‘on the road’ in both senses of the term,” said study co-author Justin Jennings, the curator of New World archaeology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

“They’re in the midst of travel, and they’re doing this work, and of course, when you’re in the midst of travel, you’re doing it at a pit stop,” he added, explaining the close connection between ancient geoglyphs and roadways.

Researchers used images obtained thanks to drones, others obtained in field works and satellite images to accurately map the location of ancient trails and geoglyphs.

According to Jennings, the circular glyphs were made by removing rocks and reddish-brown earth from the ground, exposing a lighter layer of sediment below the surface.

In some cases, the circles contain broken pottery or small hiding places of painted stones, as if someone had made an offering.

The reason why the ancients created the mysterious glyphs remains a mystery, although experts say that the ancient travelers who crossed these routes may have felt that these specific points were ‘sacred’ to them.

Experts say that the ‘Circular Geoglyphs’ resemble the Nazca Lines since they were created by removing the upper sediment exposing lighter material beneath the surface.

But, remember that the latter are much more complicated since they represent animals such as jaguars and monkeys and reach up to 370 meters in length.

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