Peruvian archaeologists have discovered a 37-meter (120-foot) long cat engraving in a little-explored area of the country’s celebrated Nazca Lines UNESCO heritage site which is home to hundreds of gigantic geoglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years.
A Geoglyph is a large design or pattern created on the ground that is usually shaped by classical rocks or landscape elements that are similarly durable, such as stones, fragments of stone, gravel, or earth.
Alejandro Neyra, Minister of Culture, Peru said, “The figure, made up of a long body, striped tail and head with distinctive pointed ears, predates some of the area’s better known-figures that include a hummingbird, spider and a human.”
It is one of several which has been identified in recent years by drone exploration of the protected 400-square-kilometer (250-square-mile) area between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, some 450 km south of the capital, Lima.
Johny Isla, the ministry’s specialist for the Nazca-Pampa region said, it was believed to be about 2,000 years old and made up of mountain-carved groves coupled with groupings of stones.
“The figure was in the process of disappearing because it was on a slope that was subject to quite extensive erosion which resulted in it being hidden for many years,” he further added.
To make it more easily visible, the geoglyph was meticulously cleaned and preserved by a team of archaeologists, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the finding was “further proof of the area’s rich and varied cultural legacy.”
Nazca Lines, which can only be seen from the air, include the carvings of a monkey, spider, pelican, whale, dog and lizard.
The geoglyphs developed by the cultures of Nazca and Paracas are striking reminders of the rich pre-Columbian past of Peru and are considered archaeological enigmas, as no one knows for sure why they were drawn or why so big and so long.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the region has been closed to visitors since March, but it is due to reopen on November 10.