Andrew Griffin — The Independent Nov 2, 2015
Nasa has released pictures of huge patterns drawn on the ground in Kazakhstan, in an attempt to solve the mystery behind how they got there.
The huge formations are known as the Steppe Geoglyphs. Scientists have little idea how they were formed — but think that solving the mystery could lead to a huge change in how we understand early humans.
There are around 260 of the designs, which are carved into the ground and made out of piles of Earth assembled into shapes that include squares, rings and swastika shapes. The oldest of them are thought to be about 8,000 years old.
The patterns were first spotted by a Kazakh enthusiast in 2007, who saw them on Google Earth. Dmitriy Dey, who works as an economist, was watching a programme about pyramids on the Discovery Channel and looked to see whether any such buildings were in Kazakhstan — when he looked, he found the strange structures.
But despite being known for almost 10 years, Kazakhstan hasn’t made much of the finds or worked to investigate them.
But Nasa is now joining the hunt to find out how exactly they got there. Nasa has released a range of satellite images, showing them photographed from the first time in an attempt to catalogue and detail them.
The land around the symbols was once a key destination for Stone Age tribes looking for places to hunt. But scientists would previously not have expected that such a population would have the time or the organisation to build and dig the huge symbols.
“The idea that foragers could amass the numbers of people necessary to undertake large-scale projects — like creating the Kazakhstan geoglyphs — has caused archaeologists to deeply rethink the nature and timing of sophisticated large-scale human organization as one that predates settled and civilized societies,” Persis B Clarkson, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg, told the New York Times.
It isn’t clear whether the creations were created as an early form of art, or for a practical function. They could have been solar observatories, some speculate, in a way similar to the theories that surround other ancient constructions like Stonehenge.
Some of the strange theories have also proposed that the structures have something to do with aliens, or have been linked with Nazis because of the appearance of the swastika. While some of those can easily be rejected — the swastika was used in a wide range of contexts before Hitler — others are harder to dismiss because so little is known about how the finds came about.