A new scientific study of mysterious circles dotting the desert landscape of Southern Peru has revealed that the strange geoglyphs were most likely created by mysterious, ancient travelers.
Some of these circles are truly massive, covering as much as half a football field across.
Their exact origin and meaning have remained an enigma to experts.
However, now, researchers found that these strange desert markings were most likely made by ancient on-the-go travelers crossing the Peruvian desert thousands of years ago.
Scientists say that the mysterious circles, positioned along old transport routes were most likely created across many centuries, and some of the circles may date as early as 200 AD, to as late as 1400 AD.
“People are doing these geoglyphs ‘on the road’ in both senses of the term,” explained study co-author Justin Jennings, the curator of New World archaeology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, to Live Science.
“They’re in the midst of travel, and they’re doing this work, and of course, when you’re in the midst of travel, you’re doing it at a pit stop,” he added, suggesting a close link between the ancient geoglyphs and roadways.
The study detailing the origin of the circles was published in the journal Antiquity.
Jennings added that the builders of the ancient geoglyphs would not have had issues drawing on the desert floor.
The circles were most likely built by simply moving aside rocks and dirt from the reddish ground, which revealed brighter sediment beneath the surface.
Researchers have discovered traces of broken pottery near some of the circles which have led experts to believe that the ancient travelers stopped by the circles to make offerings.
The circular geoglyphs aren’t too dissimilar to the Nazca lines, also found in Sothern Peru.
The Nazca lines are thought to have been created in a similar way, as the ancients removed the reddish upper layer of the ground, exposing the brighter sediments beneath.
It is noteworthy to mention that compared to the Nazca lines, the circles in southern Peru are far less complex.
The Nazca lines are 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) deep, and between 0.4 and 1.1 km (.2 and .7 mi) wide. Their combined length is over 1,300 km (808 mi), and cover an area of about 50 sq km (19 sq mi).
The geoglyphs were “very strongly associated with [paths] compared to what we would expect for random points,” said study co-author Peter Bikoulis, a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Toronto.