While most Nazca lines were attributed to the Nazca culture, this cat geoglyph seems to be significantly older.
Persian Sand Cat (Felis margarita thinobia)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The 37 meter-long figure, which like all Nazca lines is a massive drawing in the ground known as a geoglyph, was recently discovered and plans were drawn up to make a new path to an observation platform, which would provide a vantage point with which to best see the other lines.
“The figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear, because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that is prone to the effects of natural erosion,” the Peruvian Culture Ministry said in a statement, according to the BBC.
Found in an area spanning around 1,000 square kilometers in southern Peru, the Nazca lines have always been something of great intrigue to scholars due to their sheer size, often reaching 30 meters in width and sometimes over 9 kilometers in length, according to ABC News.
These geoglyphs, which often resemble animals, people or other geometric shapes, were made in the Nazca Desert by making depressions in the ground, leaving the colored desert ground exposed. Due to their historic value, they were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Most scholars attribute their creation to the Nazca culture, specifically during the period ranging from 200 to 700 CE. However, the same apparently does not hold true for the newly uncovered cat.
According to Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, the cat geoglyph is likely considerably older than the other lines, dating to the late Paracas era, specifically the period between 500 BCE and 200 CE.
“We know that from comparing iconographies,” he told the Efe news agency, the BBC reported.
“Paracas textiles, for example, show birds, cats and people that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”
Since its discovery, the cat has been cleaned and conserved, ensuring it remains in good condition, according to the Peruvian Culture Ministry, the BBC reported. However this is not the first time a new Nazca line was discovered, despite their massive size. In November 2019, researchers from Yamagata University in Japan discovered 143 new Nazca lines, which included a fish, a bird, humanoid figures and even a two-headed snake, ABC News reported.
“One of the things that continues to surprise, and that many ask, is how we still find new geoglyphs,” Isla, said, according to ABC News.
“In fact, there are new ones and we will continue to find more.”
New technological advancements certainly help, with new geoglyphs being found with greater frequency due to drone technology.
“This has improved a lot in recent years with the use of modern technology,” Isla explained, according to ABC News.
“Before we had aerial photographs or photographs from planes, but now we have photos that can be taken with drones at very low altitudes and that helps us a lot.”