Discovery of new ‘Nazca Lines’ in Peru relies on AI


A geoglyph identified using artificial intelligence computing. (IBM)

MYSTERY WIRE — Identification and preservation of geoglyphs — figures etched into the ground in the Nazca region of southern Peru — is getting a boost from artificial intelligence technology.

Masato Sakai of Yamagata University in Japan has been working for years to find the geoglyphs — also known as “Nazca Lines.” Sakai, a cultural anthropologist, and his team worked with IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center to train computers to scan satellite imagery for potential geoglyphs, according to an article on

The technology is helping to spot smaller geoglyphs often missed in the search from the sprawling figures of animals, objects and other designs that are remarkably easier to see from above. That has led to speculation they were intended to guide aerial navigation.

More than 140 geoglyphs have been identified.

The geoglyphs are nearly 2,000 years old. Sakai’s team is working to preserve and map as many as they can find.

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