Dec 14, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

168 New Nazca Lines Discovered Including a Snake, a Cat and Homer Simpson

The most famous, most varied and most intricate large geoglyphs in the world are the Nazca Lines – many of which are visible only by air in the Nazca Desert of southern Peru. The mysterious animals, birds, insects, humans, geometric figures and other shapes date back to between 500 BCE and 500 CE and were known to residents of the area, but the rest of the  world wasn’t exposed to them until the Europeans arrived in the 1500s and saw what looked like ‘roads’ from nearby hills. Their beauty and mystery didn’t become apparent until 1940 when American historian Paul Kosok flew over the lines and recognized the shape of a bird. Subsequent studies eventually put the number of lines into the hundreds and now new research by Yamagata University has added 168 additional geoglyphs to the Nazca total – including more birds, camelids, killer whales, cats, snakes, and a human who looks suspiciously like Homer Simpson or a character on “The Simpsons” cartoon series. Were the Nazca people fans of donuts and beer?

Examples of the many shapes of the Nazca lines

"If we can confirm a pattern in the distribution of the figures, we may be able to understand the intentions behind their creation. This could be a step toward understanding for what purpose they were created."

In a press conference announcing the new lines, Yamagata University cultural anthropology and Andean archeology professor Masato Sakai didn’t say the human figurine was Homer Simpson … but didn’t say it wasn’t either. He discussed his work with Peruvian archaeologist Jorge Olano between June 2019 and February 2020 when they led a team conducting field surveys on the Nazca Pampa (Nazca lowland plain) and near the city of Nazca. Using aerial photos and drones, they discovered 168 more Nazca figures which they believe were etched into the ground between about 100 BCE and 300 CE, making them some of the more modern of the Nazca lines. The team used the latest in airborne laser scanning to find some of the fainter lines and make them stand out.

“These geoglyphs were created by removing black stones from the surface of the earth to expose a white sandy surface below.”

These are said to be ‘negative’ geoglyphs – made by digging into the ground – as opposed to ‘positive’ geoglyphs which are drawn with rocks or contrasting sand, dirt or other materials. It is amazing that these geoglyphs were not found before or destroyed by human intervention because the majority (77) of them are located in an archaeological park established in 2017 near the downtown area of the city of Nazca. Fortunately, the exposed subsoil is predominantly lime, which makes the lines weatherproof and resistant to erosion. These new lines are a significant discovery because most of them are not lines at all.

“Current research suggests that there are two types of geoglyphs: a linear type and a relief type. Of the geoglyphs discovered in this study, only five are of the former type, while 163 are of the latter type. Most of the geoglyphs of the latter type are small, less than 10 meters in diameter, and are mostly distributed along ancient trails.”

The “relief” types of geoglyphs are far more interesting because they are pictures of animals, birds, aquatic creatures, reptiles, humans and oddly-formed square, circular or hexagonal geometric shapes. This large group of relatively small (under 10 meters or 33 feet in diameter) glyphs have managed to stay hidden because they were located along the edges of ancient trails and old walking paths. Perhaps the best part of these 168 new geoglyphs is that roughly 50 of them depict human-like figures – including a few that look strangely familiar.

“One of the humanoid illustrations even appears to be sporting a bit of facial hair, Homer Simpson-style.”

The Daily Mail and other media sites point out that a few of these human glyphs (see examples, including "Homer," here) bear a resemblance to the bug-eyed, overweight, round-headed cartoon character – Homer Simpson. Was that intentional or was it just difficult to draw human figures – a form that even modern artists struggle with – on the massive scale of the Nazca lines, where the artist did not have the benefit of being able to look at the figure as they draw it. And yet … this is the largest collection of human depictions of the now 358 Nazca line figures. They also include the usual ones - camelids, birds, orcas, felines, and snakes.

Do these new lines reveal any more clarity to the reasons why the ancient Nazca peoples drew these lines and shapes. In its report, Science Alert points out that the most common reasons given are that the shapes were drawn for the gods in the sky to see, or that they were an early form of astrological and astronomical charts showing the culture’s depictions and interpretations of the positions of the stars in the sky. Is there really a constellation that resembles Homer Simpson? Of course, there are the theories that the lines were inspired by extraterrestrial beings – the shapes and lines are maps, runways or landing spots for alien spaceships. Could it be that the 50 or so human-like figures found in this new collection of Nazca lines are depictions of these aliens? Could the round mound of helmet hair on some of the heads be an actual helmet? Could those bulging eyes be the result of dealing with Earth’s atmospheric pressure? Are these the “flying gods” that Erich Von Daniken described in "Chariots of the Gods"?

Could the Nazcas really have been drawing an ancient ancestor of Homer Simpson?

“Yamagata University, in collaboration with the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, is conducting an AI-based study of the distribution of Nasca geoglyphs. By using the newly discovered geoglyphs for AI analysis, Yamagata University aims to clarify the distribution patterns of the geoglyphs. The results of this research will also be used for geoglyph conservation activities.”

Masato Sakai and the other researchers at Yamagata University don’t seem to be interested in interpreting the “Homer-ness” of the human figures in the new collection of Naza lines and figures and will instead focus on interpreting the meaning of why they are arranged the way they are. That could still lead to determining that the lines are indeed landing strips, the animal figures are alien travel brochures (or menus) and the human figures are either warnings of who to avoid on Earth or drawings of other aliens who enjoyed their stay on Earth. We’ll just have to wait to find out.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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