Peruvian archaeologists unveil giant cat carved into Nazca hillside
By Carlos Valdez
LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian archaeologists have discovered a 37 meter long cat in an under-explored area of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nazca Lines, which is home to hundreds of gigantic geoglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years.
The figure, consisting of a long body, striped tail, and head with distinctive pointy ears, dates back to before some of the region's better-known figures, which include a hummingbird, spider, and human, according to the country's Ministry of Culture.
It is one of many discovered in recent years through drone exploration of the protected 400 square kilometer region, which lies about 450 km south of the capital Lima between the cities of Nazca and Palpa.
Johny Isla, the ministry's specialist in the Nazca Pampas region, said it was estimated to be 2,000 years old and comprised of forests carved into the mountain connected with groupings of stones.
"The character just disappeared because it was on a slope that was exposed to quite a bit of erosion that resulted in it being hidden for many years," he told Reuters Television.
The geoglyph was carefully cleaned and preserved by a team of archaeologists to make it more visible, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the discovery was "further evidence of the region's rich and diverse cultural heritage".
Only seen from the air, the Nazca Lines include etchings of a monkey, spider, pelican, whale, dog, and lizard.
The geoglyphs created by the Nazca and Paracas cultures are an impressive reminder of Peru's rich pre-Columbian history and are considered an archaeological mystery as no one knows exactly why they were drawn or so large and for so long.
The area has been closed to tourists since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is slated to reopen on November 10th.
(Reporting by Carlos Valdez, Reuters Television; additional reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Aislinn Laing; editing by Sandra Maler)
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