Archaeologists find huge 2,000-year-old cat image carved into Peru hillside

N'dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY
·2 min read
Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced last week that a massive figure of a cat was found etched into a hillside.
Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced last week that a massive figure of a cat was found etched into a hillside.

Archaeologists in Peru discovered a massive cat carved into the side of a hill more than 2,000 years ago, according to the country's ministry of culture.

The faded figure was discovered during remodeling work on a lookout point at the UNESCO heritage site known as Nazca Lines. The cat geoglyph was located on a steep slope and the effects of natural erosion made it hard to see at first.

The site was cleaned and archaeologists uncovered lines that varied in width from 12 to 16 inches that create the 121 foot long image.

"With this discovery, once again, the rich and varied cultural legacy that the area harbors, which is also within the area inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is revealed," the ministry said in a statement last week.

This geoglyph appears to be older than the other lines, creatures, plants and geometric figures scratched into the ground nearby that can be seen from above. The ministry said the style of the artwork indicates it may have been created between 200 B.C. to 100 B.C., in the late Paracas period.

Representations of cats frequently appeared on ceramics and textiles produced by the Paracas society. Other images like that of a hummingbird, a monkey and an orca have also been unearthed at The Nazca Lines site.

Pre-Hispanic societies scraped away the weathered gravel to reveal the lighter bedrock and create thousands of the massive designs. The images, which stretch across 174 square miles of land, are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions, but the site remains one of "archaeology's greatest enigmas," according to the UNESCO.

The site was discovered in 1927 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Since its discovery, researchers continue to uncover more of the massive figures. In 2019, a team of researchers from Japan used satellite photography and 3D imaging to identify more than 140 new geoglyphs in the region.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Huge 2,000 year-old-cat figure found carved into Peru hillside