Atacama Desert, Chile

Petroglyphs Images Carved into Rock Face

Pictographs or Pictograms Images Painted on Rock Face

Petroforms Human-made Boulder Forms

Geoglyphs are drawings or a large motif created on the ground, either by arranging clasts (stones, stone fragments, gravel or earth) to create a positive geoglyph (stone arrangement/alignment, petroform, earth mound) or by removing patinated clasts to expose unpatinated ground (negative geoglyph).

Some of the most famous geoglyphs are the thousands of Nazca Lines in Peru. Other areas with geoglyphs include Western Australia's Hill figures, turf mazes, and the stone-lined labyrinths of Scandinavia, Iceland, Lappland and the former Soviet Union.

Nazca Lines of Peru

The Mysterious Origins Of The Cerne Abbas Giant May Finally Be Revealed   IFL Science - January 3, 2024

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a hill figure near the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, England. 55 metres (180 ft) high, it depicts a standing nude male with a prominent erection and wielding a large club in its right hand. Like many other hill figures it is outlined by shallow trenches cut in the turf and backfilled with chalk rubble. It is listed as a scheduled monument of England; the site is now owned by the National Trust.

The origin and age of the figure are unclear and there is archaeological evidence that parts of it have been lost, altered or added over time; the earliest written record dates to the late 17th century. Early antiquarians associated it, on little evidence, with a Saxon deity. The lack of earlier descriptions, along with information given to the 18th-century antiquarian John Hutchins, has led some scholars to conclude it dates from the 17th century, but recent optically stimulated luminescence testing has suggested an origin between the years 700 CE and 1110 CE, possibly close to the 10th century date of the founding of nearby Cerne Abbey.

Regardless of its age, the Cerne Abbas Giant has become an important part of local culture and folklore, which often associates it with fertility. It is one of England's best-known hill figures and is a visitor attraction in the region.

The Cerne Giant is one of two major extant human hill figures in England; the other is the Long Man of Wilmington, near Wilmington, East Sussex. Both are scheduled monuments. Continue reading

Marree Man in South Australia

The Marree Man, or Stuart's Giant, is a modern geoglyph discovered in 1998. It appears to depict an Indigenous Australian man hunting with a boomerang or stick. It lies on a plateau at Finnis Springs 60 km (37 mi) west of the township of Marree in central South Australia, approximately 12 km north-west of Callanna. It is just outside the 127,000-square-kilometre (49,000 sq mi Woomera Prohibited Area.

The figure is 2.7 km (1.7 mi) tall with a perimeter of 28 km (17 mi), extending over an area of about 2.5 km2 (620 acres).

Although it is one of the largest geoglyphs in the world (arguably second to the Sajama Lines), its origin remains a mystery, with no one claiming responsibility for its creation nor any eye-witness having been found, notwithstanding the scale of the operation required to form the outline on the plateau floor.

The description "Stuart's Giant" was used in anonymous faxes sent to media as "Press Releases" in July 1998, in a reference to the explorer John McDouall Stuart. It was discovered fortuitously by a charter pilot in an overflight on 26 June 1998. Shortly after its discovery, the site was closed by the South Australian government following legal action taken in late July by native title claimants, but flights over the site were not forbidden as native title fell under federal government jurisdiction. Continue reading

Elk-Shaped Geoglyph Found In Russia

Atacama Giant

The Atacama Giant is an anthropomorphic geoglyph on the Cerro Unitas area of the Atacama Desert, Chile. At about 119 meters (390 feet), is the largest prehistoric anthropomorphic geoglyph. It has been suggested that the petroglyph represents a shaman, spiritual figure or deity, but there is little evidence to corroborate these claims.

The figure was an early astronomical calendar for knowing where the moon would set; by knowing this the day, crop cycle, and season could be determined. The points on the top and side of the head would say what season it would be depending on their alignment with the moon, which was important in determining when the rainy season would come in the barren Atacama.

The Atacama Giant is one out of nearly 5,000 geoglyphs - ancient artwork that is drawn into the landscape - that have been discovered in the Atacama region in the last three decades. It is believed that they are the work of several successive cultures that dwelt in this region of South America, including the Tiwanaku and Inca.