Archeologists have found a 2,000-year-old feline figure carved into a hillside in southern Peru, the country's Ministry of Culture announced last week.
The geoglyph of the cat measures 121 feet long and is part of the U.N. World Heritage site Nazca Lines, located almost 250 miles from Lima. The discovery was made during remodeling work being done in the popular tourist spot.
The feline figure was barely visible and was disappearing because of its location on a slope and natural erosion, the ministry of culture said Thursday. After cleaning and conservation work, archeologists found a series of well-defined lines varying between 11 to 16 inches in width. Based on its stylistic features, the figure dates from the late Paracas period, around 100 B.C. to 200 B.C.
"Representations of felines of this type are frequent in the iconography of ceramics and textiles of the Paracas society," the ministry said in a press release.
The geoglyphs and lines of Nasca and Palpa are a collection of huge etchings depicting imaginary figures, creatures and plants that were etched on the surface of a coastal desert between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the geoglyphs are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions. The lines and geoglyphs were added to the World Heritage list in 1994.
"They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world and are unmatched in its extent, magnitude, quantity, size, diversity and ancient tradition to any similar work in the world," UNESCO said.