NASA Releases Photos of 8000 Year Old Structures
NASA has released a series of images of The Steppe Geoglyphs located in Kazakhstan. A geoglyph is a large design – generally longer than 4 meters – produced on the ground by people, and typically formed by using rocks, stone fragments, live trees, or other durable materials. The Steppe Geoglyphs were discovered in 2007 by amateur archaeologist Dmitriy Dey as he was studying satellite images. By 2009, about a dozen geoglyphs in the are had been discovered. By 2012, there were 19. Now his log lists 260.
Archaeologists don’t know what they are or who built them, but they estimate that the oldest is 8,000 years old. These photos are part of an effort by NASA to help figure out exactly what they are and how they came to be. NASA is using both satellite technology, and photographic observations from the International Space Station to try and help solve the mystery.
Some of the geoglyphs are quite large. Ushtogaysky Square, is 810,000 square feet—each 900-foot side is as long as an aircraft carrier—with an X-shape through the middle. Thousands of years ago, the northern region of Kazakhstan offered rich hunting grounds for nomadic Stone Age tribes. (Ushtogaysky Square, the largest of the formations, sits close to a known Neolithic settlement.) The problem is, the formations would have taken far longer to build than how long historians currently believe these tribes stayed in one place.
This could very well change archaeologists views and understanding about early nomadic tribes. As reported by The New York Times, Persis B. Clarkson, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg who viewed some of Mr. Dey’s images, said:
“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.”