National Geographic Reveals Newly Discovered Figure in the Nazca Lines

The spider, the monkey, the hummingbird: the ancient geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines have impressed themselves upon popular consciousness thanks to appearances in numerous books, films and movies since their discovery almost ninety years ago. But as familiar as these evocative figures can seem today, surprising discoveries are still being made.

Last week, National Geographic announced that among the hundreds of individual geometric figures and figures representing plants and animals, a previously unknown figure has been discovered.

This seems to be part of a trend, as a Japanese team from Yamagata University announced the discovery of two new figures in 2011, anthropomorphic figures in a state of decapitation. They opened a research center at the site the following year, committing themselves to 15 years of field work and study. Archaeologist Masato Sakai, from the Yamagata University team, described the newest discovery as a long-tongued animal of more than 30 meters in length. Released images show a head with protruding head on the left part of the figure and a body and legs on the right part of the figure. It doesn't appear to be a representation of a real animal, but rather a mythological one.

The newer figures are located along what was once the route leading to Cahauchi Pilgrimage Site, which preceded the Nazca culture but was also very central to it.

Our knowledge of the Nazca Lines is limited. We know that the designs were created between 500 BC and 500 AD, that they were made by removing the surface level of reddish pebbles to reveal the white ground beneath, and that they probably had some sort of religious significance. They cover more than 50 miles of the floor of the arid Nazca desert and attract thousands of visitors a year.

Although isolation and an arid environment protected the lines for millennia, the site is currently considered to be under threat from squatters, pollution, erosion caused by deforestation in the region, and increasingly erratic weather. Viktoria Nikitzki, of the Maria Reiche Centre, underscored the Lines' vulnerability, asserting that "the Lines themselves are superficial; they are only 10 to 30 cm deep and could be washed away... Nazca has only ever received a small amount of rain. But now there are great changes to the weather all over the world. The Lines cannot resist heavy rain without being damaged." With flooding and mudslides affecting the area during different periods in the last ten years, the lines have had to support more than just rain, and the future is uncertain. Travelers who have dreamt of flying over the Nazca Lines should keep in mind that it's considered an endangered site- we recommend you not to wait.

Inca World Team
Publication date: 17 May 2016
Sources: Inca World Team

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