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Geoglyphs of the Atacama Desert, the Nazca Line's Little Known Sister!

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posted on May, 22 2010 @ 08:48 AM
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G'day ATS,

I'm actually a little excited about this thread. I love bringing to ATS topics that aren't widely known or documented here on our site. Everybody (surely!) has heard of the NAZCA LINES found in Southern Peru. But I was surprised to find that there is another set of Lines, or Geoglyphs to be found in a large area of Northern Chile, in the Atacama desert region.

My interest was first piqued by this image found in a PDF called Ancient Sites.



Under it was the caption:


Lines and geoglyphs created by other than the Nazca are found between Arica and Calama, in northern Chile.


Trust me, they are many times more interesting than these seemingly arbitrary lines on a hill side, please bear with me!! So without further ado my friends, I present;

THE ATACAMA GEOGLYPHS




I was surprised further to discover that the Atacama Geoglyphs are more numerous than the Nazca Lines, but far less famous. The Atacama Geoglyphs are smaller than the Nazca examples, the largest geometric forms are 120 meters, while others such as ‘El Gigante’ (the giant) is a “mere” 86m. However in my opinion they are no less impressive. The barren, dry and inhospitable nature of this area (Yes I know it’s a desert but even for a desert this place is very dry!) could be an argument for the lack of knowledge about these features. They were only discovered in 1961, remain difficult to reach and are generally spaced far apart. This may possibly give us an answer to the inevitable question, WHY?


The geoglyphs of northern Chile have had a variety of interpretations related to their function, with an emphasis on the activities of groups of prehistoric caravans. From the first explorations of the Atacama Desert, humans were forced to adopt careful solutions for survival. Through the incorporation of the llama as a transport system, they were able to increase their knowledge of the regional geography and its various extreme environments like the 'puna', cordilleras, gullies, pampas and salt flats, and to reach points that were both remote and difficult. The accumulated knowledge included fundamentals such as the location of water resources and their quality. No less important was knowledge of the distribution of fodder in sufficient quantity to maintain the caravan system. Thus the people of the region eventually put together a complex network of paths to serve the specialised groups that crossed the different geographical regions of the desert.


Atacama Desert - Driest Desert On Earth

There are other theories though:


Possible functions include a cultic worship of mountains, or expressions of devotion to Andean deities


I guess we’ll never really know for sure, but notably several of the Geoglyphs are on or around ancient trails that have lead archaeologists to assume the initial theory is more likely. As with the Nasca lines, three basic construction methods are thought to have been employed in the Atacama. “Extractive” (removing the natural top layers to leave a scar in the ground), “Additive” (adding rocks or other naturally occurring materials) and “Mixed” (A mixture of both).


The latest research has identified more than 5000 geoglyphs, among which geometric forms are hugely dominant, and then figurative forms, either anthropomorphic or zoomorphic, in broadly equal measure.


I will present the best of these to you in this thread, with links to many of the rest!

Spread out over an area of approximately 150,000 square kilometres, it is generally accepted that the geoglyphs were constructed a little later than the Nazca Lines, between 600AD and 1,500AD. They range in size from 1-120 meters and can be found in groups of up to 65.

It has also been suggested that the Geoglyphs are a lot older than the dates above, although the evidence for this is a little sketchy.


GEOMETRIC GEOGLYPHS




Geometric geoglyphs range from simple conventional motifs to the most complex designs. Many resemble designs on textiles and ceramics, such as circles, concentric circles, circles with dots, rectangles, equal-sided crosses, arrows, simple parallel lines, complex parallel lines, spirals, simple and complex stepped rhombuses. They are found isolated or forming groups with or without apparent order. There are some noteworthy linear figures laid out on level, horizontal surfaces, some of them more than a hundred metres long, and also concentrations of circles, always around paths.






This feature has drawn comparison with the Nazca Lines




ZOOMORPHIC FIGURES






Zoomorphic figures include camelids in pairs or in lines, figures of felines, birds of lakes, sea or land, such as flamingos, seagulls, eagles, rheas, serpents, toads, lizards, foxes, dogs, monkeys and fishes, especially open-sea species like dolphins or sharks.


Can a shark can be seen top left?





Lama geoglyph on the crest of a Hill



A herd of Lamas



And my personal favourite!



ANTHROPOMORPHIC FIGURES


THE GIANT




The Atacama Giant (Spanish: Gigante de Atacama) is a large anthropomorphic geoglyph in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Located at "Cerro Unitas", this is the largest prehistoric anthropomorphic figure in the world with a height of 86 metres (282 ft) and represents a deity for the local inhabitants from 1000 to 1400 CE.


The Giant Seen From Above Using Google Earth





Other examples:





And:



Peculiar figure of a man holding a walking stick



Links to larger versions of all these images and more can be found HERE.


So WHO built them?

Now this one is tricky, and I actually didn’t come up with much definitive information regarding this during researching this thread. There is evidence pointing to influence from several local (to the region) cultures. The best guess is that local tribes, herders, towns and communities built them as signposts for trails, warnings or worship. These were then augmented or added to by successive civilisations such as the Tiwanaku and Inca who were dominant through out Western South America at the time.


Well ATS, it was always going to be impossible to show all 5,000 Geoglyphs, I hope you found this small selection interesting, and I also hope you'll tell people about the Atacama Geoglyphs NOT JUST the Nazca Lines in the future!!



SOURCES NOT IN THREAD

The geoglyphs of the north Chilean desert: an archaeological and artistic perspective Antiquity, March, 2006 by Luis Briones-M.

The Geoglyphic Art of Chile's Atacama Desert By K. Kris Hirst, About.com Guide




posted on May, 22 2010 @ 08:55 AM
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This is why I love ATS!


I few days ago I was planning on searching the net for other geoglyphs beside Nazca and forgot to do it.

Thanks!



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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Nice Op I like these, here are a couple of my own

The sri yantra



And from my home country Australia which is home to a few geoglyphs, You Yangs in Victoria and parts of WA, there is also the world largest geoglyph at over 28km, found by a pilot in 98, since then it has been claimed to have been the work of a deceased artist who wanted to leave a final mark and remained silent about its construction, interesting none the less.

Marree Man



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 10:30 AM
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Well, I just have to pop in


I like those. The pictures are saved! S+F

BTW: You will find a lot more, and better ones...

on mars!



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 12:00 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 
Nice one Kiwi, you got your Mojo back!

I've seen the 'Giant' before in fringey books, but the rest is all new to me. Crosses are, naturally, a common symbol across the ancient world...basically two straight lines. The crosses here seem distinctive due to being contained in squares. The zoomorphic figures are familiar and can be found on textiles and pottery from Chilean and Peruvian graves in the high Andes.

I'll have to see if I can find anything worth adding...unlikely.



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 12:18 PM
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I love that you love what you do.


Thank you very much. I never heard of these before.



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 01:59 PM
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Is it wrong I think these are more awesome than the nazca lines? I love these ones!



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 02:35 PM
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Great thread. The info is so interesting. There is so much we just don't know about the past.
If I could a second career, I would study such mysteries full time.
S&F



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 02:39 PM
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Nice work Kiwi.

Kia kaha e hoa.

I particularly like the link to the Foundation for Landscape Studies. There goes my Sunday, you bugger !



Oh, and S&F _b

[edit on 22-5-2010 by aorAki]



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 02:43 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 


These seem to be 'drawings' not really similar to the 'Nazca Lines' which is probably why there isn't as much attention given to these ones... some also seem to be more recent!

Don't get me wrong, they are still great to look at but for me they don't really carry the same Mysticism.



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 04:13 PM
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The geoglyphs drew the attention of German mathematician Maria Reiche, who worked as (archeologist) Paul Kosok's translator. She studied the lines from the 1940's to her death in 1998. She lived nearby, walked and photographed the lines, drew maps, developed theories, and drew the attention of the world to Nazca.


Maria Reiche

Atacama



"I began my research in 1940, but then the war came and Peru joined the allies. We Germans were not allowed to leave Lima. In '46 I could see that the solstice lines existed in different places especially from centers, of which almost every one of them has one, or two, solstice lines. There are also solstice triangles! In general, one can say that not only straight lines, but also the edges of triangles and quadrangles, have specific directions which are repeated everywhere. More than sun directions there are moon directions, which is in agreement with the knowledge that the moon was observed before the sun.

For instance, the big quadrangle beside the figure of the spider is a moon direction and the other one beside the figure of the Heron with the winding neck, is one side in the single direction and the other side in the solstice direction! Such a quadrangle could have served to predict eclipses, which were a powerful means of subjecting the people. Even Columbus used an eclipse to frighten the people as he knew the correct time to do so.

During this work of measuring lines I saw that there were many figures. I could recognize them because I had seen one! Others couldn't.

That is why the Pan American highway cut the figure of the lizard in half. Before the highways construction in 1938 people drove randomly over the lines and figures without seeing anything! From the air the figures were not visible either due to the nature of the soil at the time. You see the figures are of a whitish color on a brown surface, this brown surface is a thin covering of dark stone about 10 cm, which suffers the process of oxidation giving the entire region its particular brownish effect. Underneath the soil is still whitish, not brown, comprised of a mixture of rock that had been split into small fragments due to extreme temperatures, and clay, which ultimately was blown away by strong winds coming down from the Andes. The huge basin was filled with this mixture creating this flat surface we call the Pampa. This is why we only have these small pebbles on the surface.

There are extremely strong winds here, even sandstorms, but the sand never deposits over the drawings. On the contrary, the wind has a cleansing effect taking away all the loose material. This way the drawings were preserved for thousands of years. It is also one of the driest places on earth, drier than the Sahara. It rains only half an hour every two years! Now all this has changed due to air pollution. Huge masses of dust and sand blow in from a large iron mine southwest of Nasca and fill the entire region with contamination, this produces precipitation, not enough for agriculture, but enough to endanger the figures.

The figures, the drawings, are very superficial furrows never more then 30 cm in depth, and very shallow. For this reason the wind has obscured them by filling them with small dark pebbles from the surrounding surface like grain, making them difficult to detect from the air. To make them more accessible for viewing I cleaned them with a broom, one broom after another throughout the years. I went through so many brooms rumors circulated that I might be a witch! "

Maria Reiche


excellent website.


[edit on 22-5-2010 by mslag67]

[edit on 22-5-2010 by mslag67]

[edit on 22-5-2010 by mslag67]



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 04:21 PM
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reply to post by sandri_90
 


Thanks Sandri, I hope the information in the thread was along the lines (excuse the pun) of what you were thinking about looking for!


reply to post by polarwarrior
 


Mate, whether recent or not, that Marree Man is quite impressive. There were some examples of recent geoglyphs in Atacama if you go to the link at the bottom.

Thanks for taking the time to post those pics, it's appreciated mate!

reply to post by Kandinsky
 



Originally posted by Kandinsky
reply to post by kiwifoot
 
Nice one Kiwi, you got your Mojo back!

I've seen the 'Giant' before in fringey books, but the rest is all new to me. Crosses are, naturally, a common symbol across the ancient world...basically two straight lines. The crosses here seem distinctive due to being contained in squares. The zoomorphic figures are familiar and can be found on textiles and pottery from Chilean and Peruvian graves in the high Andes.

I'll have to see if I can find anything worth adding...unlikely.


Thanks my friend! I did find a few references to Messoamerican pottery and textiles while researching the thread, so you are right on the money as always!

I just wish I could post more pics, and of better quality, but they wee few and far between, take care mate, Kiwi



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 04:23 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 


Excellent find KW! as always you put a lot of time and effort in bringing us all another great thread


As the other poster said " glad to see you got your mojo back"



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 06:00 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 


Does that say USA next to the " GIANT " ?

the Darker looking picture shows it.....

I could easily see humans making these...but the unknowing purpose is pretty cool.



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 06:37 PM
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Nice one. I had not heard of this before.
Thanks for writing this up. I wonder why people did that. There and at Nazca. I've heard that they marked trails to find underground water sources. Seems plausible I suppose.
Nice art never the less.



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 08:28 PM
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Thanks Kiwifoot, I've seen some of these before, but several like the llamas are new to me.

You get the blame for another night of me staying up researching on the net.

S&F



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 10:07 PM
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Nice job OP. Love it.



posted on May, 22 2010 @ 10:55 PM
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Originally posted by polarwarrior
Nice Op I like these, here are a couple of my own

The sri yantra


Marree Man


That is strange polarwarrior.

The first two pictures you posted which seems to be as drawings on the land is actually an a very sacred to Indian culture, its the symbol of Kundalini of Shiva and Shakti.

It has been known in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions and since the earliest Vedic times as the most powerful and mystically beautiful of all yantras (geometric mandalas known as power diagrams).
It represents the timeless creative principle of the universe, the continuous unfoldment of all realms of creation from the central source, and with that mindfulness, it is used as an object of meditation.
Have a look below.




en.wikipedia.org...



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:36 AM
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Am I the only one who feels a sudden need to learn how to live off the land? I mean, really, if such advanced cultures could disappear, couldn't we all? Perhaps these people asked the same questions. I guess I'm not full of answers tonight


I'm sure we have most of the history of ourselves completely wrong, but regardless, the individuals who created these monuments clearly went through rather enormous effort to do so; it could not have been simply for idle amusement. Whether it was to communicate with flying gods or to express themselves artistically, we should uphold these creations as what they are, monuments to their efforts.


P



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 07:04 AM
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Originally posted by oriondc
Am I the only one who feels a sudden need to learn how to live off the land? I mean, really, if such advanced cultures could disappear, couldn't we all? Perhaps these people asked the same questions. I guess I'm not full of answers tonight


I'm sure we have most of the history of ourselves completely wrong, but regardless, the individuals who created these monuments clearly went through rather enormous effort to do so; it could not have been simply for idle amusement. Whether it was to communicate with flying gods or to express themselves artistically, we should uphold these creations as what they are, monuments to their efforts.


P


I agree with you oriondc, that's why I love this forum and the subjects within, I try to imagine what they went through, their thought processes that led them to create such monuments.

The effort that went into them, from the Pyramids to Stonehenge, New Grange to Carnac, Nazca Lines to these Geoglyphs in Chile, I mean WTF!!

I agree that we need to go back to basics, or at the very least look at the great accomplishments of the ancients and learn valuable lessons.

Thanks for your post, all the best Kiwi.






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