Peru unveils giant cat etching at famous Nazca site

A giant cat figure etched into a slope at the Unesco world heritage site in the desert near the town of Nasca in southern Peru, after its was discovered by archaeologists. AFP/Peruvian Ministry of Culture

LIMA - A giant 2,000-year-old figure of a feline that was on the brink of disappearing will be the new cat's meow when Peru's remarkable Nazca Lines attraction reopens to tourists in November.

The geoglyph is around 37m long and was recently discovered by a drone on a hillside, the culture ministry said.

"The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear due to the effects of natural erosion as it's on a fairly steep slope," said the ministry.

A group of archaeologists took on the job of cleaning and preserving the geoglyph, which shows a cat with its body in profile but its head front on.

The lines making up its outline were mostly well defined and 30 to 40 centimetres wide.

Experts say its stylistic features mean it is from the late Paracas period, more than 2,000 years ago and older than the other famous Nazca figures such as the mockingbird, monkey, and spider.

"Feline representations of this type are common in the iconography of ceramics and textiles of the Paracas society," said the ministry.

The people that formed the Nazca civilization in that area of southwestern Peru lived there from 200 to 700 AD, but the cat dates from 200-100 BC.