Nasa has released new images of the mysterious Kazakhstan geoglyphs as researchers prepare to mount an expedition to the ancient site. The latest pictures, taken from space, show four of the 260 geoglyphs discovered to date. The Kazakhstan geoglyphs are far older than Peru's famous Nazca Lines – dating to around 8,000 years. The Nazca Lines are around 1,500 years old. Similarly, while Peru's geoglyphs are thought to have been created by the Nazca culture, the origin of those found in Kazakhstan are a complete mystery.
Sitting in a remote area of the vast country, the markings – including rings, crosses, squares and a swastika – remained hidden from human knowledge for thousands of years. Until economist and archaeology enthusiast Dmitriy Dey came across them using Google Earth in 2007.
IBTimes UK looked at the mystery of these lines in August, with Pittsburgh University scientists Shalkar Adambekov and Ronald Laporte calling for more research into their origin. Adambekov, who is from Kazakhstan, said: "The main thing is they are very scarcely studied. There are groups of people studying the geoglyphs and they have reported their findings, but I think there are many more things to be discovered. Also there are concerns over preservation because of construction and natural erosion and other things. It's an old and cultural thing so it is important – they think it is the trace of an old civilization.
"It's a complicated problem. Kazakhstan is an obscure country and no one knows much about it. It's not floating in world news, as a result few people know what's going on there. That's one part of the problem. Financing is another thing. Archaeology as I understand is not very well funded and Kazakhstan is a developing country ... If we could attract more financing that would be great."
And following their calls, a group of scientists – including Adambekov and Laporte – are now planning to visit the site to carry out more research. The Kazakhstan National Geographic Society is now planning a project on the geoglyphs for 2016, but further details are yet to be released.
Commenting on the latest images from Nasa, which were taken by satellite contractor DigitalGlobe, Nasa senior biospheric scientists Compton J Tucker told the New York Times: "I've never seen anything like this; I found it remarkable ... [Nasa is] proceeding to map the entire region."