Kazakhstan Geoglyphs

Last year it was announced that 50 huge sprawling geoglyphs had been discovered in Kazakhstan by archaeologists surveying Google Earth, but since then there has been little information about how, when and why they were built. The earthworks, in Turgai, Kazakhstan, were first spotted in Google Earth in 2007 by Kazakh economist, Dmitriy Dey, according to an in-depth report in the New York Times. They are created from mounds of dirt only three feet and roughly 30 feet wide (0.9 metres high and 9 metres wide). The geoglyphs come in a huge range of shapes and sizes – there are rings, crosses, squares and a swastika. Unlike the famous Nazca lines in Peru, they were constructed by building mounds – the Nazca lines were created by digging into the ground. What is most intriguing about the geoglyphs is who made them. It is thought they date back at least 3,000 years, but further research into the patterns indicates the oldest could be as much as 7,000 years old. During this time in Kazakhstan, societies were largely nomadic, so why they would have started building these features with stone is a complete mystery.

Kazakhstan geoglyph

In ancient times, the swastika was a common design with no political undertones. Though the swastika was created from timber, most of the geoglyphs were shaped from earth.

Using a dating technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), the archaeologists recently found that the structures were constructed starting around 2,800 years ago. They were built at the beginning of Kazakhstan's "iron age," when iron tools and weapons gradually replaced those made of bronze, said archaeologists Andrew Logvin and Irina Shevnina, both of Kostanay University in Kazakhstan.

So far, the archaeologists can confirm the existence of 60 such geoglyphs in Kazakhstan. They suspect more will be found, but they have yet to find 260 of the earthen designs, as was reported by the Times, Logvin and Shevnina said.

Though the purpose of the geoglyphs is not known, excavations at the geoglyphs have yielded the remains of structures and hearths that may have been used as sanctuaries, Logvin and Shevnina said. They also noted that the geoglyphs might have been used by tribes to mark territory.





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