The Amazon rainforest has uncovered one of the world’s greatest pieces of fossil rock art. Archaeologists also uncovered tens of thousands of animal and human drawings on cliffs extending approximately 13 kilometers in the Colombian Amazon, called the Sistine Chapel of the Ancients.
Some of these works date back 12,500 years, as shown by depictions of extinct Ice Age wildlife (such as mastodons, and giants sloths).
Some of the first people to conquer the Amazon saw these creatures and painted them. His photographs depict a long-lost world. The paintings are so big that researching them would take decades.
The revelation was produced last year, but it was kept hidden until now since it was filmed for a new Channel 4 project called Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, which will debut in December.
The location is in the Serrana de la Lindosa, which has rock art, as well as the Chiribiquete National Park.
Ella Alshamahi, an archaeologist and adventurer who presented the documentary, told The Observer: “The discovery is so new that they haven’t even assigned the place a name yet.” Your feelings flow while you’re there.
We’re talking tens of thousands of paintings here. Counting them together will require centuries.
Any turn you take takes you closer to a new wall of paintings, according to José Iriarte, a professor of archeology at the University of Exeter and the leader of the British Colombian team that discovered the wall.
We began to see species that have now been extinct. We have no question that you are looking at a horse, for example, since the pictures are so natural and well-made. The Ice Age horse’s profile was wild and stylized.
It’s so detailed that horsehair can be used. It’s fun to watch. Fish, turtles, lizards, and birds are among the images, as are people dancing and holding hands, among other things.
The location is so isolated that a team of archaeologists and filmmakers had to trek for four hours after a two-hour drive from San José del Guaviare. They seemed to escape the region’s most unsafe residents in every way.
Alligators are everywhere, and we were still on the lookout for snakes, according to Alshamahi, who remembered a large bushmaster (chochoana mute rattle, America’s deadliest snake with an 80% mortality rate) barring its path into the forest.
They were late leaving, and it was pitch black. They had little hope of passing in front of the serpent, recognizing that if they were hit, going to a hospital would be impossible.
He informed me I was in the middle of nowhere. However, seeing the paintings was well worth the trip, he said. Colombia, as the documentary points out, is a world ripped apart by a 50-year civil war between FARC guerrillas and the Colombian regime, which has now negotiated an uneasy ceasefire.
The region where the paintings were found was totally off-limits until recently, and approaching it safely always necessitates cautious diplomacy.
When we reached FARC land, AlShamahi said, it was just like some of us had imagined. The analysis has not yet finished. The technological revolution isn’t finished, yet the most significant breakthroughs can now be made in contested or aggressive environments. Paintings come in a variety of sizes.
There are several handprints, and many of the pictures, whether abstract, animal, or human forms, are on that scale. Alshamahi was taken aback at how tall all of them are: I’m 1.55 meters tall, and looking up will hurt my neck too much.
How can they scale those cliffs? In reality, some of the paintings are so far up that only drones can see them. Iriarte suggests the solution resides in the paintings’ descriptions of wooden buildings, which have characters that appear to bungee jump from them.
The colour of these works is terracotta-reddish. We also discovered blocks of ochre that had been scraped to create them, according to the specialist.
He said, “It’s fascinating to note that all of these huge creatures tend to be surrounded by tiny men with their arms raised, like worshiping these objects,” speculating whether the paintings had sacred or other meanings.
Non-humans, such as animals and trees, have a spirit for Amazonian cultures, and they interact and relate to people in a cooperative or aggressive way through shamanic ceremonies and traditions depicted in rock art, he clarified.
Having the megafauna of the ice age, which is a period measure, was one of the most interesting things. People don’t want to know that Amazon has updated its look. It wasn’t quite like this.
Of course, a horse or a mastodont in these drawings wouldn’t survive in a jungle. They’re excessively broad.
They are not just giving clues about when they were painted by any of the first humans, which is incredible in and of itself, but they are also giving clues about how this same location might have been: something like the savannah, AlShamahi concluded.
The team confirms that what they discovered is just the tip of the iceberg and that they will return to the site in the near future to look for more.