An Ancient Image of an Enormous Lounging Cat Has Been Discovered in a Peruvian Desert

The geoglyph is dated between 200 BC and 100 BC.

Just 250 miles south of Lima, Peru, you’ll find an ancient art gallery of sorts in the desert landscape. Centuries ago, geoglyphs of a hummingbird, a monkey, an orca, and a human-like figure were etched into the ground, and now a new figure has revealed itself: an enormous cat lying across the hillside.

According to The Guardian, this feline Nazca line appeared as work was done to improve access to a nearby hill that provides a natural vantage point of the other Nazca lines. Experts have already dated this lounging cat between 200 BC and 100 BC.

Added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1994, the Nazca Lines were created by removing rocks and earth to reveal the contrasting materials below. There are hundreds of geometric and zoomorphic images in the area, which covers about 175 square miles, The Guardian reports.

“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 lines, told the Spanish news agency Efe.

The latest discovery “was scarcely visible and was about to disappear because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” Peru’s culture ministry said in a statement this week. “Over the past week, the geoglyph was cleaned and conserved, and shows a feline figure in profile, with its head facing the front.”

In recent years, drones have been used to take aerial images of the hillsides, making it even easier to make these discoveries. Isla said between 80 and 100 new figures have appeared in recent years in the Palpa and Nazca valleys, but these predate the Nazca culture (AD 200-700).

The cat, however, can be dated to the late Paracas era, which ran from 500 BC to AD 200. “We know that from comparing iconographies,” said Isla. “Paracas textiles, for example, show birds, cats, and people that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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