A cat lies in the Sun in Peru, its ears up and alert, its belly exposed, and tail stretched out.
The cat is 120 feet long, and around 2,000 years old. It’s a geoglyph recently discovered in Peru’s Nazca desert.
After authorities began improving access to a lookout point called the Mirador Natural, a research team noticed a barely visible cat on a hillside.
“It’s quite striking that we’re still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found,” Johnny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, told the Spanish news agency EFE.
The Nazca lines are huge drawings in the soil of the Nazca desert, mostly created by the Nazca culture between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
Underneath the terra cotta pebbles of the desert is a yellow grey soil; when the top layer is removed, it exposes a lighter colour underneath. There’s not much rain, wind, or erosion in the region, so the human-made formations could stay in relatively good nick for thousands of years.
The sub-layer of soil also contains high amounts of lime, which hardens with exposure to moisture (such as from morning mist) and helps keep the lines safe from erosion for thousands of years.
Some of the Nazca lines are geometric shapes, some are simple lines, and some are combined into elaborate depictions of animals and objects, often stretching several metres and best seen from afar or from the skies above.
This cat is older than any of the other geoglyphs found in the area.
“The discovery shows, once again, the rich and varied cultural legacy of this site,” the ministry said in a statement.
Although we’re not sure about why these huge symbols were etched into the desert, recent studies have given us some clues – suggesting that they may have served as travel markers, or to be seen by deities in the sky.
Now it’s been carefully cleaned up, and is looking as good as new. We’re glad this ancient cat gets to enjoy the light of the Sun once more.
Anyone for a game of Red Dot?