Geoglyphs can be formed by trenching - removing from 10 to 60 cm of surface materials to expose a lighter substrate that contrasts with the surrounds; or they can be defined by rocks, stones, wood and other durable materials.
The purpose of ancient geoglyphs remains uncertain. They are seen as representing astronomical events, marking ceremonial sites and pilgrimage routes, as representations of deities to be worshipped, ancient languages and even roads and residential sites. Many of them depict animals.
The Uffington White Horse in England is one of the oldest geoglyphs. A trenched geoglyph of over 100 m by 30 m, it would have disappeared if it had not been regularly maintained by a chain of people for over 3000 years.
The Uffington White Horse. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Sajama Lines in Bolivia, created c.900 BCE, total 160,000 km over an area of 25 square km.
Probably the best known ancient geoglyphs are the Nazca Lines in Peru. Created between about 400 and 650 AD, they show pictures of numerous creatures including a spider, llamas, a lizard and several types of birds.
Spider, part of the Nazca Lines. Photo Credit: Britain Explorer
We'll tell you more about modern geoglyphs in future posts.
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