Giant figures unearthed in Peru
Older than Nazca lines, archaeologists say
LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Archeologists have discovered a group of figures scraped into the hills of Peru's southern coastal desert that are believed to predate the country's famous Nazca lines.
About 50 giant figures were etched into the earth over an area of roughly 90 square miles (145 square kilometers) near the city of Palpa, El Comercio newspaper reported.
The drawings -- which include human figures as well as animals such as birds, monkeys, and felines -- are believed to have been created by members of the Paracas Culture sometime between 600 and 100 B.C., Johny Islas, the director of the Andean Institute of Archaeological Studies, told the newspaper.
One prominent figure appears to represent the main deity of the Paracas Culture that is commonly depicted on textiles and ceramics that date from the period, Islas said.
The recently discovered designs predate the country's famous Nazca lines that cover a 35-mile (56-kilometer) stretch of desert and have mystified scientists. They were added to the United Nations' Cultural Heritage list in 1994.
The Nazca culture flourished between 50 B.C. and 600 A.D., Islas said.
The lines -- which also include pictographs of various animals -- are one of Peru's top tourist attractions. About 80,000 tourists fly over the site every year.