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The Altiplano, meaning ‘high plain’ in Spanish, is a high plateau in the Andes Mountains located to the North-East stretching across the borders of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
Its brilliant, clear sky makes Atacama a famous place for star gazing.
The southern Atacama desert is famous for bursting into flower after rare rainfall, exhibiting rare exotic flowers and stunning colours across hundreds of kilometres, in a phenomenon known as the Desert in bloom.
The most frequent type of geoglyph in the Atacama are geometric forms: circles, concentric circles, circles with dots, rectangles, crosses, arrows, parallel lines, rhomboids; all symbols found in pre-Hispanic ceramics and textiles.
One important image is the stepped rhombus, essentially a staircase shape of stacked rhomboids or diamond shapes (such as in the figure).
The geoglyphs of the Atacama Desert were built using three essential methods, ‘extractive’, ‘additive’ and ‘mixed’.
Some, like the famous geoglyphs of Nazca, were extracted from the environment, by scraping the dark desert varnish away exposing the lighter subsoil.
The lack of clouds means stargazing is optimum all year round.
The Altiplanic rainy season comes during Chilean summertime between December and March, and the rest of the year tends to be very dry, cool, windy and sunny.
Zoomorphic figures include camelids (llamas or alpacas), foxes, lizards, flamingos, eagles, seagulls, rheas, monkeys, and fishes including dolphins or sharks.
One frequently occurring image is a caravan of llamas, one or more lines of between three and 80 animals in a row.
Additive geoglyphs were built of stones and other natural materials, sorted and carefully placed.