Peru: 143 new geoglyphs discovered in Nazca using artificial intelligence

00:26 | Lima, Nov. 19.

Japan's Yamagata University has announced the discovery of 143 geoglyphs —including humanoid figures and other objects— on Nazca Pampa and surrounding area, in Peru.

A research team led by Professor Masato Sakai at Yamagata University discovered 142 new geoglyphs, which depict people, animals, and other beings. 

Situated mainly in the west of Nazca Pampa, these new geoglyphs were identified through fieldwork and by analyzing high-resolution 3D data, among other activities conducted up to 2018. 

The biomorphic geoglyphs are thought to date back to at least 100 BC to AD 300. 

Additionally, in a feasibility study carried out from 2018 to 2019 together with IBM Japan, the university discovered one new geoglyph by developing an AI model on the AI server IBM Power System AC922 configured with the deep learning platform IBM Watson Machine Learning Community Edition (formerly known as IBM PowerAI). 

The study explored the feasibility of AI's potential to discover new lines, and introduced the capability to process large volumes of data with AI, including high-resolution aerial photos, at high speeds. 

This represented the first glyph at the site discovered by an AI Professor Sakai and other researchers at Yamagata University have engaged in initiatives to study Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 2004.

In addition to successfully identifying many geoglyphs, Professor Sakai and others have carried out activities to preserve this heritage site. 

However, there is still much work to be done to survey the distribution of these geoglyphs. 

Moreover, the expansion of urban areas has brought damage to the lines, drawing attention to the protection of Nazca Lines as a social issue. 

It must be noted that Yamagata University and IBM Research have entered into an academic agreement regarding research on Nazca Lines. 

On the other hand, the AI technology at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in the U.S. is expected to help the Yamagata research team better understand the distribution of Nazca Lines, and accelerate research and contribution toward protection activities to protect this World Heritage Site.

About Nazca Lines

Situated in the arid Peruvian coastal plain, some 400 km south of Lima, the geoglyphs of Nazca cover about 450 km2.

They include more than 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures, as well as 70 plant, animal, and anthropomorphic designs. 

While some researchers believe the glyphs were part of an astronomical observatory, others believe they acted as a calendar.

The huge figures can be viewed in full only from the sky.


Published: 11/19/2019
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