Geoglyphs or massive ancient earthworks etched in the tree-less steppes of Turgai in Kazakhstan were recently captured by scientists and are now the subject of investigation concerning the area's prehistoric settlement.

NASA released several satellite photos of these geoglyphs which were estimated to be approximately 8,000 years old and can only be seen 430 miles above via aerial view. Each of the geoglyphs was described to contain geometric figures of crosses, lines, rings and squares the size of large football fields.

One of these Steppe geoglyphs is called the Ushtogaysky Square, named after a village in the area. The Ushtogaysky Square is the largest geoglyph and is a giant square containing 101 elevated mounds with a diagonal cross inside.

Another geoglyph captured by NASA showed some kind of three-limbed swastika, a symbol that has been associated with Nazis. The symbol's arms ended in zigzags that were set counterclockwise. Swastikas, which depicted power and prosperity, were not mainly used by Nazis. Experts say that in Indo-European culture, swastikas were marked for good luck.

The mysterious ancient earthworks were first discovered through Google Earth eight years ago by Dmitriy Dey, an archaeology enthusiast and Kazakh economist.

"I don't think they were meant to be seen from the air," said Dey. He dismissed the speculations that the geoglyphs were connected to Nazis or aliens. He also explained that the figures were possibly used as observatories to record the movements of the Sun as seen on Earth.

Scientists say that the experts in Kazakhstan have now started efforts to investigate and protect the geoglyphs, although without progress so far.

Several researchers, however, were first doubtful about the authenticity of the geoglyphs.

"I was worried this was a hoax," said Dr. Ronald LaPorte, an epidemiology professor at Pittsburgh University. LaPorte became interested in the discoveries and decided to contact Dey.

The recorded images and facts that Dey kept convinced LaPorte and other scientists that the findings were indeed true.

Dey said that the Turgai valley was once a destination for Stone Age tribes looking for hunting grounds. He said that the Mahandzhar culture, which prospered in the area during 7,000 B.C. to 5,000 B.C., could have designed some of the geoglyphs.

Archeologists say that such discoveries could change the current understanding regarding early nomadic cultures. Some are surprised by the idea that certain nomadic tribes would have remained in one place, constructed the timber for ramparts and dug out lake bed sediments for the structures.

Meanwhile, Dey hopes that further research will be done to understand these geoglyphs. He also said that archeologists in Kazakhstan particularly need modern technologies to create an operations center at the site.

Below are some of the Steppe Geoglyphs found in Kazakhstan:

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