Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, assistant professor at the department of physics of Turin’s Polytechnic University, used Google satellite maps and AstroFracTool, an astronomical image-processing program which she developed, to investigate over 463 square miles of land around Peru’s Titicaca Lake .
She says she has identified shapes that were built by Andean communities centuries ago.
“This region is covered by terraced walls and raised fields, which are large elevated planting platforms with canals in between. The earthworks represent an almost unimaginable agricultural effort to improve soil, temperature and moisture conditions for the crops,” Sparavigna told Discovery News.
According to the researcher, enhanced satellite imagery revealed that some of the land forms are not only the remains of an extensive ancient agricultural system, but also those of formations designed to represent birds, snakes and other animals.
“They seem to be geoglyphs,” Sparavigna said.
Geometric lines and images of animals that are best viewed from the air, geoglyphs are well-known in South America. Among the more famous geoglyphs are the Nasca Lines on the south coast of Peru and ring ditch sites in the Bolivian Amazon and Acre, Brazil. They feature impressive circular, oval, rectangular, square and D-shaped patterns.
“Past Andean and Amazonian societies imposed order, structure and aesthetics on nature through intentional design, engineering, and activities of everyday life,” anthropologist Clark Erickson of the University of Pennsylvania told Discovery News.
“They created a complex environment of fields, paths, roads, canals, shrines, ceremonial centers, and settlements. One expression of this landscape transformation was the creation of geoglyphs or patterns made in earthworks,” Erickson said.