The thin sand of southern Peru, etched centuries ago with geoglyphs from a hummingbird, a monkey, an orca – and a figure that some would very much like to believe is an astronaut – has now revealed the shape of a huge cat, relaxing over a desert hill.
The Cats Nazca line, dated to between 200 BC. and 100 BC, emerged during the work to improve access to one of the hills, providing a natural vantage point from which many of the designs can be seen.
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“The figure was barely visible and was disappearing because it is located on a quite steep slope that is prone to the effects of natural erosion,” Peru’s Ministry of Culture said in a statement this week.
“Over the past week, the geoglyph was cleaned and preserved, showing a cat figure in profile with its head facing the front.” It said the cat was 37 feet long with well-defined lines that varied in width between 30 inches and 40 inches.
“It is quite striking that we are still finding new figures, but we also know that there is more to be found,” Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the lines, told Spanish news agency Efe.
“Over the last few years, the use of drones has allowed us to take pictures of mountain slopes.”
Isla said that between 80 and 100 new figures had emerged in recent years in the Nazca and Palpa valleys, all of which preceded the Nazca culture (AD200-700). “These are smaller in size, drawn on mountain slopes and clearly belong to an earlier tradition.”
The archaeologist said the cat had been put out in the late Paracas era, which ran from 500 BC. to AD200. “We know that by comparing iconographies,” Isla said. “Paracas fabrics, for example, show birds, cats and humans that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”