World's Largest Geoglyph Still a Mystery: Southern Australia's Marree Man


The Marree Man from above
Geoglyphs are works of art that are made either by making mounds out of material like rocks or soil or by digging lines or shapes into the soil. Most geoglyphs are impossible to see as art at ground level. However, if you view them from a plane, their shapes become clear. Some examples of geoglyphs are the Nazca lines in Peru and the Serpent Mound in Ohio, U.S.A. These are examples of rather large and well-known geoglyphs that have been around since long before our time. We also have a relatively good idea of who made them. Oddly, the largest geoglyph in the world is only a few decades old and nobody seems to know who made it. This geoglyph is called the Marree Man and it is located in the outback in southern Australia.

A pilot that was flying over the plateau on which the geoglyph is located discovered the Marree Man in July of 1998. The tremendous work of art was largely ignored, however until a local hotel owner received an anonymous fax regarding the Marree Man. The hotel owner told the local newspaper about it and the story ran on July 15, 1998. It was then the public realized there is a giant, mysterious geoglyph less than three miles outside of Marree.

The Marree Man depicts a standing aboriginal hunter with a spear or possibly a boomerang in his hand. The nude man is roughly two and a half miles tall. Some experts believe that it is remarkably accurate in its depiction of an aboriginal hunter. However, others say that it is incorrect. Either way, it is a very astonishing work of art. Experts believe that it was completed shortly before it was discovered; yet nobody noticed that it was being made. In fact, no one has ever come forward and admitted to making it. This is very surprising because whoever did it did not commit a crime.

Despite the fact that no one has come forward to explain the Marree Man to the world, experts have a good idea of how it was made. The outline of the geoglyph was made by removing the vegetation from the soil where the lines were. There was also a layer of soil removed to reveal the lighter soil beneath, thus making the Marree Man stand out against its surroundings. It is thought that the work was accomplished by using tractors or plows to move the materials, judging by tread marks left at the scene. It is also thought that the artist or artists used GPS to map out their design and make it as accurate as it is.

Today, the Marree Man is slowly fading, but it is still clearly visible from a plane. However, it will eventually erode away. For now, there is no way of knowing why it was even put there to begin with. Indeed, it may never be known who made the Marree Man or why they did it.

Update: As of fall 2016, the Marree Man is much clearer due to restorations conducted in collaboration with the aboriginals in the area. There is hope that the new grooves will fill with water and turn the dusty old Marree Man green!

Sources

Marree Man, retrieved 9/23/09