Peruvian archaeologists unveil giant cat

Archaeologists say the Nazca etching was obscured by erosion.
Archaeologists say the Nazca etching was obscured by erosion.

Peruvian archaeologists have uncovered a 37-meter-long cat etching in a little-explored part of the country's celebrated Nazca Lines UNESCO heritage site.

The area is home to hundreds of gigantic geoglyphs dating back more than 2000 years.

The figure, made up of a long body, striped tail and head with distinctive pointed ears, predates some of Nazca's better known-figures that include a hummingbird, spider and a human, the country's Culture Ministry says.

It is one of a number discovered in recent years by drone exploration of the protected 400-square-kilometre region that lies 450 km south of the capital Lima between the towns of Nazca and Palpa.

Johny Isla, the ministry's specialist for the Nazca-Pampa region, said it was estimated to be around 2000 years old and made up of groves carved into the mountain coupled with groupings of stones.

"The figure was in the process of disappearing because it was on a slope was subject to quite extensive erosion which resulted in it being hidden for many years."

The geoglyph has been painstakingly cleaned and preserved by a team of archaeologists to make it easily visible, the ministry said, adding that the discovery was "further evidence of a rich and varied cultural legacy".

The Nazca Lines, which can only be seen from the air, include etchings of a monkey, spider, pelican, whale, dog and lizard.

The geoglyphs created by the Nazca and Paracas cultures are striking reminders of Peru's rich pre-Columbian history and are considered archeological enigmas, as no one knows for sure why they were drawn.

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

Australian Associated Press