Prehistoric Rock Art Revealed on a Vast Scale

Archaeologists have discovered tens of thousands of ice age paintings in an isolated location in the Amazonian rainforest. A full two-hour drive from San José del Guaviare, the paintings date back to over 12,000 years ago and span nearly 12 kilometers across Colombian cliff faces. The site is so remote that it doesn’t even have a name yet, and can only be reached, after that two-hour drive, by a four-hour trek on foot through the rainforest.

The discovery was made by a British-Colombian team of archaeologists, led by a leading expert on the Amazon and pre-Columbian history, archaeobotanist José Iriarte.

The pictures, described as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Ancients,’ are so vast in scale that they will likely take generations to study and catalog.

The paintings were filmed for a major Channel 4 series, Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, presented by palaeo-anthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi. She was amazed by how high up the cliff faces some of the paintings are.

Like those at the nearby site of Cerro Azul, many of the paintings can only be reached by drones. “I’m 5ft 10in and I would be breaking my neck looking up,” Al-Shamahi stated in the documentary. “How were they scaling those walls?”

Dating the artwork has been partially carried out through analysis of the animals depicted in the paintings, such as the mastodon, which hasn’t been recorded in South America for at least 12,000 years. There are also drawings of the now-extinct palaeolama, giant sloths, and ice age horses.

The team will be back as soon as Covid-19 allows. Watch “Ancient rock art reveals amazing facts about the Amazon”:

Read more on the Guardian website.


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