A huge carving of a cat in an arid hillside that is estimated to have been done over 2,000 years ago has been recently discovered in southern Peru, and the pictures are being widely shared on social media.
The Nazca lines, a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, is home to designs on the ground – known as geoglyphs. While remodelling work was being carried out in the Natural Viewpoint in the Pampa de Nasca, archaeologists from the Ministry of Culture discovered the new carving.
In a statement, Peru’s culture ministry said, “The figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear, because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion.”
It added that the geoglyph, which is about 37m long, dates back to the Late Paracas period. This predates the famous figures of the Nasca Pampa, that are estimated to have been done 100 to 200 years earlier, the ministry added.
“Representations of felines of this type are frequent in the iconography of ceramics and textiles of the Paracas society,” it said.
Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, told EFE news agency that the cat pre-dates the Nazca culture – which created most of the figures from 200 to 700 AD.
“We know that from comparing iconographies,” he said. “Paracas textiles, for example, show birds, cats and people that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”
According to the chief archaeologists, around 80 to 100 new figures have emerged over recent years in the Nazca and Palpa valleys, all of which predated the Nazca culture.
The geoglyphs depict many living creatures, stylised plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometres long. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization website says that these drawings are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.
“The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines, as well as their cultural continuity, demonstrate that this was an important and long-lasting activity, lasting approximately one thousand years,” the UNESCO says.
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