A gigantic 200-year-old pattern carved into the earth on barren land in India is the biggest artwork of its kind ever discovered – all thanks to Google Earth.
The artistic curvy scrawl is spread across 51 acres of the Thar Desert, and was discovered by researchers when they were exploring the area using the popular computer program.
It's thought to be the largest geoglyph ever recorded, reports Live Science.
Geoglyphs are designs formed with earth or stone that have cropped up across the globe, from Kazakhstan to California and parts of rural England.
This is the first time a glyph has ever been found in India – and it covers a massive 100,000 square metres, or 14 times the area of a football pitch.
In fact, it's so big that the people who originally created it probably never saw the artwork in its entirety, according to scientists in a paper published last month.
The design features several intricate spirals and a long winding line that doubles back on itself.
It was uncovered by Carlo and Yohann Oetheimer, father-and-son researchers who are based in France.
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They surveyed an area of the Thar desert near the border of Pakistan using satellite imagery provided by the online tool Google Earth.
After identifying eight sites with possible geoglyphs, they flew a drone over the area to reveal a cluster of enigmatic line formations.
While some of these were furrows seemingly dug for trees, others had no obvious purpose, and appeared to link together to form a spiralling pattern.
In particular, two "remarkable geometrical figures" close to the village of Boha stood out, researchers said.
They were a massive spiral and a serpent-shaped drawing, each connected by a cluster of sinuous lines.
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The researchers estimate that the drawings total 24 kilometres of lines, each up to 10 centimetres deep and 50 centimetres wide.
It's not clear why the lines were carved. Researchers believe they're between 180 and 200 years old.
One theory is that the markings commemorated a spectacular event observed in the night sky.
"[This] invites us to consider religious, astronomical, and/or cosmological meanings," the researchers wrote.
"Because of their uniqueness, we can speculate that they could represent a commemoration of an exceptional celestial event observed locally."
The research was published in the journal Archaeological Research in Asia.
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