Google Earth reveals the world's largest terrestrial drawing

A complex of undulating lines has been found in India's Thar desert, possibly the largest terrestrial pattern ever discovered.

Previously, geoglyphs, including lines formed from rocks or objects on the ground, had not been found in India. The geoglyphs are known only in other deserts in Peru and in Kazakhstan.

Geoglyph in the desert in India consists of several spirals and a long repeating zigzag line. The figure covers an area of 51 acres (about 20.8 hectares), spanning about 48km of arid region near the border with Pakistan.

It is not clear why the lines were created, although they are located near some stone towers or stacked stones and memorial stele, later carved with images of Hindu deities. Krishna and Ganesha.

Geoglyphs in India. (Photo: Asian Archaeological Research Institute)
Geoglyphs in India. (Photo: Asian Archaeological Research Institute)

Independent French researchers Carlo Oetheimer and Yohann Oetheimer report in the upcoming September issue of the journal Archeology in Asia that the contours may have some religious or ceremonial significance. The overall picture cannot be seen from the ground because the terrain here is flat, there is no high position nearby. Therefore, only by searching the area on Google Earth can this geoglyph be discovered.

Researchers first discovered these contours on Google Earth in 2014 while conducting an online survey of the area.

The largest of India's geoglyphs is a giant spiral. (Photo: Asian Archaeological Research Institute)
The largest of India's geoglyphs is a giant spiral. (Photo: Asian Archaeological Research Institute)

Mr. Oetheimer said: "The lines located in the village of Boha are striking for their large size, their varied shapes (a giant spiral, boustrophedon lines (a style of writing in which lines are interlaced) interstitial is reversed, with the letters reversed - PV) and a small, ovoid spiral".

The lines are quite delicate on the ground. They are dug into the desert soil, about 10 cm deep and 20 cm to 50 cm wide. Although researchers are not sure how the lines are created, they could have been formed from a plow drawn by an animal, such as a camel.

Parts of the giant spiral in the village of Boha. (Photo: Asian Archaeological Research Institute)
Parts of the giant spiral in the village of Boha. (Photo: Asian Archaeological Research Institute)

Based on the weather and the sparse growth of vegetation in and around these lines, the team estimates that the drawings date back to about 150 years, or possibly 200 years. This area is not used for farming as there is no water for irrigation nearby. The land is currently used for grazing goats and sheep.

This terrestrial painting needs to be protected, the researchers added. They have been somewhat damaged by passing traffic since satellite images were taken in 2014.

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