New Cat Figure Found amid Nazca Lines

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October 20, 2020

Archaeologists have found yet another larger-than-life animal-like geoglyph in the area of the Nazca Lines, a group of carvings in Peru that date to thousands of years ago.

Nazca Lines cat

The latest etching, sporting pointed ears and a striped tail, looks very much like a cat sitting on a hillside. The figure measures 120 feet long.

Officials from the Ministry of Culture said that the cat figure is the oldest yet found, dating to between 200 B.C. and 100 B.C. The archaeologists found the figure while remodeling an overlook, an existing section of the Nazca Lines, a UNESCO heritage site that lies between Nazca and Palpa. Peruvian officials closed the site in March because of concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus. The site is due to open on November 10, officials said.

In 2019, archaeologists discovered several dozen new figures ranging in length from 15 feet to 500 feet. Among the new shapes discovered, in part by using artificial intelligence, was a humanoid figure that looked like it was holding what might be a club. In 2018, scientists employing low-flying drones discovered 50 barely visible lines to add to the Nazca collection.

Experts have studied the Lines off and on for the hundred years or so since they were discovered. So far, the scientists have identified hundreds of simple lines and geometric shapes, a large handful of tree- and flower-like shapes, and more than 700 animal-like shapes. Among the animal-like shapes found are birds, fish, jaguars, monkeys, and llamas. One of the most famous of the shapes depicts a spider.

The Nazca culture flourished in Peru from about A.D. 200 to about A.D. 700. Several times throughout their history, the Nazca people dragged a series of great rocks through the desert with deliberate attempt, creating shapes that look like a monkey and a hummingbird and several kinds of geometric shapes and at least one set of human-like figures. The largest figures are 1,200 feet long.

The Nazca people created their figures by digging a shallow trench of between 4 and 6 inches deep, removing the reddish-brown pebbles that form much of the Nazca Desert's surface material to reveal the light-colored clay underneath. The desert is one of the driest and least windy on Earth; that combination has helped to preserve the line patterns long after the Nazca culture was succeeded by others.

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