Massive 2,000-year-old etching of cat found on Peruvian hillside

Archaeologists discovered this darling and massive etching of a cat at the site of the Nazca Lines in Peru, about 250 miles away from the capital city of Lima. The researchers spotted the 120-foot-long etching while working on the UNESCO heritage site where the ancient geoglyphs of animals, plants, and geometric shapes may have been used for astronomical rituals or wayfinding. From the New York Times:

"It's quite striking that we're still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found," Johny Isla, Peru's chief archaeologist for the Nazca Lines, told Efe, a Spanish news agency.

The designs were believed to have been created when ancient Peruvians scraped off a dark and rocky layer of earth, which contrasts with lighter-colored sand underneath. Researchers believe that the figures once served as travel markers.

Drone photography has led to several discoveries in recent years, Mr. Isla said. In 2019, researchers from Japan, aided by satellite photography and three-dimensional imaging, unearthed more than 140 new geoglyphs at the site.

Research and conservation work had continued at the site even during the coronavirus pandemic, when most tourist sites have been closed. Archaeologists and employees were working on the Mirador Natural, a lookout point in the protected site, when they began unearthing something intriguing. When they cleaned the mound, clear lines showing the sinuous body of a cat emerged.

"The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear because it is situated on quite a steep slope that's prone to the effects of natural erosion," the culture ministry said in a statement.

image: Johny Islas/Peru's Ministry of Culture-Nasca-Palpa