Road workers in Brazil were preparing to pave a highway through the Amazon rainforest recently, when they made an important archeological discovery -- a series of enormous earth carvings, barely perceptible from the ground. Known as geoglyphs by researchers, these complex geometric designs are thought to have been crafted by ancient civilizations centuries earlier, though their purpose, to this day, remains a mystery.According to Globo Amazônia, these latest geoglyphs were reported by road technicians who were conducting a geographical survey prior to the paving of highway BR-429, a road which cuts through the state of Rondonia in the Brazilian Amazon. Because the carvings are usually quite large, frequently measuring over a mile, they are notoriously difficult to see from ground-level -- so an archaeologist was called in to confirm the discovery.
Francis Pugliese, from Brazil's National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, believes the latest finds are only the tip of the iceberg. "Surely there's more," he said. "It would be necessary to use other technology to locate them."
More Geoglyphs Discovered in the Amazon
View Geoglyphs Discovered in Rio Branco, Brazil in a larger map
To date, some 300 geoglyphs have been recorded in the Brazilian Amazon, thanks largely in part to the advances in satellite imagining. Using tools like Google Earth, archaeologists can easily scour the landscape for the sprawling geometric carvings. Deforestation and development in the rainforest, too, has made it possible to find many geoglyphs that would otherwise be hidden from view.
Even though the first geoglyphs were discovered in the region in the 1970s, archaeologists still aren't sure about how they were made or what purpose they served for the people that carved them into the Earth some 700 years ago. Still, the presence of these large-scale geometric figures would seem to indicate that the ancient cultures of the Amazon were far more advanced than previously thought.