A team of researchers from Yamagata University in Japan announced this week that they have identified 24 new geoglyphs in Nazca, Peru, site of the UNESCO World Heritage Nazca lines.
The newly found geoglyphs are smaller than their famous peers, but estimated to be several centuries older.
The more famous Nazca geoglyphs are estimated to have been created between 400 and 650 AD with the largest spanning 270 meters (890 feet), while the newly discovered images date from 400-200 BC and range from just five to 20 meters (16-66 feet).
These smaller glyphs were carved into the side of hills so they could be clearly seen at the time of their creation.
Over time, natural and human erosion have degraded the lines of the artwork, making them difficult to spot, but the team used a 3-D scanner and photos to locate them. However, some are only partially visible and it’s difficult to tell what they are supposed to represent. Others are clearly llamas, an animal almost synonymous with the Andes.
The university has been studying the Nazca lines since 2004, setting up a full research center in Peru in 2012. Including 17 new geoglyphs found last year, the Japanese team has discovered 41 previously unknown glyphs in the area.
With the site just 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the expanding city of Nazca and in an area where mining takes place, the research team is now calling for conservation measures to preserve these new discoveries and protect the area for further research.