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Large and antique cat glyph found on the Nazca Lines of Peru

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Archaeologists from the Peruvian Ministry of Culture have announced the discovery of a 37-meter-long glyph of a cat in the Nazca Lines.

Officials last week undertook the cleaning and conservation of the cat, which was barely noticeable and almost completely wiped out, the state news agency Andina reported.

The Nazca Lines are a group of large drawings, known as geoglyphs, carved into the desert sands of southern Peru, about 400 miles[400 km]from the capital, Lima.

“One of the things that continues to surprise and amaze many is how we still find new geoglyphs,” said Johny Isla, director of the Nazca Lines conservation mission at the Ministry of Culture, as quoted by euronews.

“In fact, there is news and we will continue to find more,” he said.

The geoglyphs are spread over an area of ​​almost 1,000 square kilometers depicting humans, animals and other figures and were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

They are thought to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old, with some stretching 30m wide and more than 9km long.

People look at the figure of a cat on a hill in Nazca, Peru.
Archaeologists are conducting conservation work on the newly discovered cat geoglyph.(AP: Peruvian Ministry of Culture / Jhony Islas)

As they were first discovered about a century ago, scientists and archaeologists have found increasingly frequent geoglyphs in recent years with the help of drones.

“This has improved a lot in recent years with the use of modern technology,” Mr Isla said.

“We used to have aerial photographs or pictures from airplanes, but now we have pictures that can be taken with drones at very low altitudes and that helps us a lot.”

Researchers from Japan’s Jamagata University reported 143 previously undiscovered Nazca Lines in November last year, including a fish, a two-headed snake, a bird and humanoid figures.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to monitor the distribution of these geoglyphs,” said a statement from the university at the time.

“Furthermore, the expansion of urban areas has brought about damage to the lines, drawing attention to the protection of the Nazca Lines as a social issue.”

An image of a humming bird, nearly 100 feet[100 m]long, at Nazca Lines.
An image of a humming bird, nearly 100 feet[100 m]long, at Nazca Lines.(Akademia Khan: Diego Delso)

The Greenpeace group of environmental activists sparked outrage in 2014 when they staged a protest near the famous Nazca Lines bird, for which they later apologized.

Peru dependent on tourism is also home to the ancient Inca castle, Machu Picchu, listed by the World Heritage.

Peru was certified last week by the World Tourism and Tourism Council under its Safe Travel initiative, which aims to see tourism recover in adherence to protocols to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“Getting this stamp is really very important for us,” Tourism Minister Rocio Barrios told the Spanish news agency Efe.

“We have had a very restrictive quarantine and now we are opening activities to restore tourism.”

Earlier this year, tourists were arrested after feces were found in Machu Picchu, with a man accused of “destroying Peru’s cultural heritage”.

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