Space buffs are forever stunned and amazed by the things NASA finds out in the universe, but some days, it’s the discoveries the agency reveals here on Earth that are the most fascinating. NASA has released photos of some curious formations in the ground in Kazakhstan, and even the space agency’s scientists aren’t really sure what the patterns are all about. The formations, known as the Steppe Geoglyphs, are thought to be around 8,000 years old and NASA hopes that releasing the images will help unlock the mystery behind the strange patterns.
The geoglyphs consist of at least 260 designs, which are carved right into the ground and also contain small mounds of dirt assembled into shapes and patterns. There are squares, rings, and swastika shapes. The patterns were first discovered in 2007 by an economist and archaeology enthusiast named Dmitriy Dey, who stumbled upon the curious carvings by accident while looking for pyramids on Google Earth.
In the intervening years since the initial discovery, Kazakh officials haven’t really invested much effort in unraveling the mystery behind the strange formations. The curious folks at NASA have now joined the quest for information, largely because it is believed the story of the geoglyphs’ beginnings will give us a broader understanding of early man.
For example, it’s known the area around the carvings was prime hunting territory during the Stone Age. However, scientists didn’t previously think that nomadic populations of that time period would have stayed in one place long enough to create such elaborate and time-consuming structures. At this point, nobody knows whether the formations have a practical purpose or were solely intended as artistic expression. So far, questions and theories far outweigh any conclusions that can be supported by solid evidence, but perhaps in time, we’ll learn more about these bizarre patterns, seen only from the sky.