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An enduring archaeological mystery may be a step closer to being solved.
Scientists studying the famous ‘Nazca lines’ have identified the birds shown in the giant markings, which could solve the mystery of why they were made.
Experts - Rituals - Gods - Rainfall
Experts suggest they could be connected with ancient rituals appealing to the gods for rainfall.
The Nazca lines contain more than 2,700 geometric shapes, lines and images of plants and animals etched into the sand.
Years - Inca - Site - Machu - Picchu
They were created between 1,300 and 2,400 years ago, well before the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru.
They are a feat of artistry, only properly visible from the air, which means their creators likely had no way of fully seeing what they had made.
Desert - Figures - Explanations - Purpose - Impressions
Carved into a Peruvian desert, the giant figures have attracted various explanations for their purpose, but exactly what they depict had been left to vague impressions.
In a bid to solve the mystery of what they show and why, researchers led by Hokkaido University exhaustively studied 16 images of birds.
Classification - Figures - Guano - Bird - 'hummingbird
They were able to correct the classification of one of the figures from a guano bird to pelican and reveal that a 'hummingbird' glyph is specifically a type of hermit.
Interestingly, the birds from the new identifications did not live in the Nazca desert, but instead came from further afield in Peru.
Figure - Feet - Metres - Line - Desert
Each figure, the largest of which is 1,200 feet (370 metres) long, has been made typically from just one winding line carved into the desert face, which survive today thanks to the region's isolation and dry, windless climate.
To understand exactly why the Nazca people drew the figures, it is necessary first to understand exactly what each so-called geoglyph is intended to represent.
Masaki - Eda - Hokkaido - University - Museum
Masaki Eda of the Hokkaido University Museum in Sapporo, Japan and his colleagues compared the 16 avian-looking Nazca glyphs with real birds in order to try...
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