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The Amazon rainforests of South America are known to throw up surprises, especially new species of flora and fauna. But the recent discovery of cave art found here provides an idea of the people and the animals that lived here during the Ice Age. The drawings likely date between 11,800 and 12,600 years ago and have been found across three rock shelters, in Serranía La Lindosa, on the northern edge of the Colombian Amazon.
The earliest cave paintings found in Bhimbetka (a UNESCO World Heritage site in Madhya Pradesh) in India date from 10,000 years ago.Although the excavations took place in 2017-18, the study has been released only recently, media reports said. National University of Colombia, the University of Antioquia and the University of Exeter collaborated on the research.
According to a release by UK’s University of Exeter, this is one of the largest collections of rock art found in South America. It is believed that the people who lived here mostly hunter-gatherers, a lifestyle also corroborated by the images found. The rock art includes ‘geometric shapes, human figures, and handprints, as well as hunting scenes and people interacting with plants, trees and savannah animals’.
Researchers have found drawings of deer, tapirs, alligators, bats, monkeys, turtles, serpents, and porcupines, as well as what appears to be Ice Age megafauna. There are also images of ‘creatures resembling a giant sloth, mastodon, camelids, horses, and three-toe ungulates with trunks’, according to the release.
According to one of the researchers, Dr Mark Robinson from the University of Exeter, “These really are incredible images, produced by the earliest people to live in western Amazonia. They moved into the region at a time of extreme climate change, which was leading to changes in vegetation and the make-up of the forest. The Amazon was still transforming into the tropical forest we recognise today. The paintings give a vivid and exciting glimpse in to the lives of these communities. It is unbelievable to us today to think they lived among, and hunted, giant herbivores, some which were the size of a small car.”
Sistine Chapel of the ancients' rock art discovered in remote Amazon forest.— European Research Council (ERC) (@ERC_Research) November 29, 2020
Tens of thousands of ice age paintings shed light on people & animals from 12,500 years ago.
The discovery research of José Iriarte & team is funded by the ERC. #EUfunded #investEUresearch ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂªðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂº https://t.co/pYzyeqpPga pic.twitter.com/PFJMZgmMsz
The discovery of this rock art dubbed as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Ancients’ by many features in a Channel 4 series titled Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, which is being aired December 5 onwards.
Meanwhile, archaeologist and explorer Ella al-Shamahi, who headed to South America in search of the lost civilisations, have cleared the air about the controversy if this was a new finding or not in a series of tweets.
Hi all a few folks are querying a few things about this new rock art find - I keep trying to respond but am repeating myself quite a bit. So apologies if you are getting repetition!— Ella Al-Shamahi (@LittleMsFossil) December 3, 2020
So again this particular site in la Lindosa is a NEW rock art site, there are other sites... 1/
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