Giant 2,000-Year-Old Cat Etched Into Hillside Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru

Cat Geoglyph at Nazca Lines

Located in a desert in southern Peru, Nazca Lines is an incredible triumph that shows the creativity of prehistoric tribes. The collection of geoglyphs—large designs—made in the soil date from 500 BCE to 500 CE and new work is constantly being uncovered. In fact, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture just unveiled the discovery of a 120-foot-long cat etched into the side of a hill.

Given its size, it's incredible that the design remained hidden for so long. It was only when workers were doing maintenance on a lookout point known as the Mirador Natural that they came across the pattern. The enormous feline was barely visible due to natural erosion on the steep hill, but once workers began cleaning the area, it appeared in all its glory.

The lines measure between 12 and 16 inches thick and now that the cat has been restored, it's easy to admire the work. Officials have stated that the design dates to the Late Paracas period, making it over 2,000 years old. This means that the cat geoglyph is one of the earlier designs in the Nazca Desert, even earlier than the famous Nazca drawings. Cats were a common motif for the Paracas, as shown in their ceramics and textiles.

The Paracas, an Andean culture that thrived between 800 BCE and 100 BCE were greatly influential to the later Nazca culture. In fact, this influence is best seen in the Nazca Desert, where the Nazca Lines borrow from many Paracas drawings. However, while the Nazca Lines are typically located on the desert valley floor, geoglyphs by the Paracas are commonly found on hillsides.

The discovery is a reminder that cultural heritage work hasn't slowed down during the pandemic. And with so much left to discover at Nazca Lines, there's plenty of work to still be done. Just last year, over 140 new geoglyphs were discovered with the help of AI, so there's surely more to come.

Workers have just uncovered a 2,000-year-old cat drawn into the side of a hill at Peru's Nazca Lines.

Workers Clearing Cat Geoglyph at Nazca Lines

h/t: [Vice, Gizmodo]

All images via the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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