‘The Sistine Chapel Of The Ancients’ Discovered In Amazon Rainforest
Historic artwork believed to have been created around 12,500 years ago, has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest.
The artwork, which features animals and humans, was discovered on prehistoric rock across various cliff faces, stretching for eight miles in total, in the Chiribiquete National Park, in Colombia.
It was found by a British-Colombian team of archaeologists, who have named it the Sistine Chapel of the ancients.
While it remains difficult to determine the exact age of the artwork, the team, who are funded by the European Research Council, said the artwork portrays a number of extinct animals that date back to the ice age, including the mastodon, which hasn’t been seen for at least 12,000 years.
Archaeologists also noticed drawings of palaeolama, which were related to the camel family, as well as giant sloths and horses dating back to the ice age.
In addition to the extinct animals, the Sistine Chapel of the ancients also shows human hand prints, which are believed to have belonged to Amazonian native tribes, who were the descendants of the first wave of Siberian migrants some 17,000 years ago.
The migrants are thought to have crossed the Bering Land Bridge, which stayed untouched during the ice age thanks to light snow. The bridge was hundreds of miles long, and allowed people to cross from continent to continent.
It’s unclear specifically which tribe the artwork belonged to, however it’s likely to be either the Yanomami and the Kayapo, which are the two main indigenous tribes in the rainforest.
Judging by the timeline, it could belong to either of the tribes, given that reports of the Yanomami tribe date back to 1759, when they were discovered by a Spanish explorer on the border of Brazil and Venezuela.
There is, however, significantly less known about the Kayapo tribe, which is believed to be much smaller in size, with a population of just 8,600.
The research team was led by Jose Iriarte, a professor of archaeology at Exeter University, who said the discovery was ‘emotional.’
‘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,’ he said, The Guardian reports.
‘We started seeing animals that are now extinct. The pictures are so natural and so well made that we have few doubts that you’re looking at a horse, for example. The ice age horse had a wild, heavy face. It’s so detailed, we can even see the horse hair. It’s fascinating.’
While the research team were left baffled as to how the tribes managed to reach such heights on the cliff face, the depictions go a long way to explaining what life looked like 12,000 years ago. The murals did, however, depict wooden towers with figures apparently bungee jumping from them, which may answer how they got up so high.
The rock art is due to feature on episode two of Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, which starts at 6.30pm on Channel 4 on December 5.
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