Huge 2,000-year-old cat found etched into desert hillside in Peru

The feline figure, seen on a hillside in Nazca, Peru.

New Delhi (NVI): Peruvian archaeologists have uncovered an enormous cat etched into a hillside in the desert of the famed Nazca Lines.

According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture, the cat was carved on a desert hillside over 2,000 years ago and measures approximately 37 metres (121 feet).

The ancient geoglyph (large design or motif produced on the ground by clastic rocks) forms part of the Nazca Lines, which are a collection of hundreds of mysterious artworks, including that of a hummingbird, a monkey, a spider and a human, etched onto a plateau 250 miles south of Lima.

The discovery of the cat figure was made during the maintenance work which was being done to improve access to one of the hills that provides visitor’s a vantage point from which many of the designs can be seen.

The figure is made up of a long body, striped tail and head with distinctive pointed ears.

A ministry press release said, “The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear as a result of its location on a fairly steep slope and the effects of natural erosion.” However, after undertaking cleaning and conservation work, archaeologists were able to uncover a series of lines varying in width from 30 to 40 centimeters.

The ministry also added that the style of the geoglyph suggests that it was created between 200 BC to 100 BC, in the late Paracas period. “Representations of this type of feline are frequently found in the iconography of ceramics and textiles in the Paracas society,” the statement added.

A UNESCO world heritage site since 1994, the Nazca Lines are drawn in geometric patterns and distinct animal shape. About 80 to 100 new figures emerged over recent years in the Nazca and Palpa valleys, all of which predated the Nazca culture (AD200-700).

The area has been closed to tourists since March because of the coronavirus pandemic but is due to reopen on November 10.