Archaeologists have uncovered new geoglyphs on the grounds of Peru, almost invisible to the naked eye.

A team of researchers at the Yamagata University in Japan found two dozen geoglyphs in the Peruvian South Coast, along the Nazca Region. The discovery was made during a survey conducted from December last year to February. The 24 newly found motifs are an addition to 17 similarly styled geoglyphs previously discovered in an adjacent area by the same team.

To obtain a picture of these outlines that are already almost invisible, the team used a 3D imaging scanner. This allowed them to specifically identify the designs, which were mostly geometrical shapes resembling llamas, or the Andean native camelid.

"All these geoglyphs were drawn on the slopes of the hill, to make them clearly visible," said lead researcher Professor Masato Sakai.

The designs range from 16 feet to 66 feet and were estimated to date to as far back as 400 B.C. to 200 B.C. According to the researchers, these 24 new images would have been earlier versions of the previous discoveries that date a little later from 100 A.D. to 650 A.D. The designs used a different technique compared to styles applied on the ancient Nazca Lines, which became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

In the arid Nazca Pampa region, which lies between the Andes and the coast, white ground is covered by black oxidized pebbles.

Sakai said that when the pebbles are moved along lines of interest, white lines emerge, reflecting a technique that would have been used to etch figures of the animals.

The culture of the ancient Nazcan people flourished with their ability to carve geometric designs in the desert, from first century B.C. to fifth century A.D.

In 2004, the researchers at the Yamagata University began to investigate Nazcan culture and have since then been able to uncover around 50 geoglyphs. They coordinated with the Peruvian government to protect Nazcan geoglyphs from the threat of urbanization.

Earlier in April, Yamagata University President Kiyohito Koyama and the Peruvian Minister of Culture Diana Alvarez Calderon agreed on the academic cooperation and the preservation of the Nazcan geoglyphs. The Asian research team is the only research team permitted by the government of Peru to conduct such studies on site.

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