The Sistine Chapel of the ancients

Amazonian ancient rock art

A stunning discovery of prehistoric rock drawings depicting humans, animals, and various ancient people's activities was made in the forest labyrinths of the Amazon jungle. The unbelievable number and quality of the pictures spread across miles of cliff faces provoked the researchers to call the site "The Sistine Chapel of the ancients". The archeologists reckon that it would take decades for the scientists to explore and study thoroughly all the figures and ornaments. The leader of the expedition Jose Iriarte says "When you're there, your emotions flow … We're talking about several tens of thousands of paintings. It's going to take generations to record them … Every turn you do, it's a new wall of paintings." These explorations could lead us to yet unknown facts about the life of prehistoric humans and critical knowledge of early human civilizations.

The Amazonian Pandora's box

As modern people, we were already fascinated by the cave drawings in Lascaux, Altamira, and Chauvet. These mesmerizing paintings disclosed that even a long time ago, in the cradle of civilization, human beings were feeling the urge to visually express themselves, to make Art. On the grounds of that, we learned a lot about the way people were living during these obscure ancient times. Now, we turn to yet another page of the endless History of Humankind.

Deep into the heart of Amazonian darkness the research team led by Jose Iriarte - professor of archaeology at Exeter University - stumbled upon an archeological treasure and what they found was thousands of reddish (most probably made with natural clay pigment) paintings on an eight-mile-long cliff hidden into the dense rainforest of Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia. The pictures are dated back to 12,500 years ago. This estimation is based on the extinct animals, which are drawn, such as mastodon, palaeolama - an ancient member of the camel family, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses. The flora and fauna represented in the Amazon rock art suggest that early as these pictures were made the Amazon region was a mix of forest and open savannah. Not only, but the archeologists also found artistic rendering of turtles, lizards, porcupines, handprints, hunting scenes, and, as it may possibly be, yet unknown ancient Amazonian cults.

The site is found deep into the Colombian jungle south of the capital Bogota. The place is so remote that it takes at least four hours of trekking through a thick forest before getting there. It is situated in the Serranía de la Lindosa, where the researchers believe many other rock paintings are still hidden in the dense rainforest. By the estimation of the research team, there could be more than 100,000 pictures, which makes this site the biggest prehistoric "document" describing the prehistoric life in the ancient Americas.

The astonishing discovery was made in 2019 but it has been kept secret until it was shown on a popular Chanel 4 series called Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon.

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Saturday, 24 July 2021

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