Eight Miles of Prehistoric Amazonian Wall Art Discovered

The discovery of almost eight miles of ancient Amazonian wall art was announced within the last 24 hours. It is being called “The Sistine Chapel of the Ancients”. This wall features multiple tens of thousands of images of humans and animals and is estimated to have been created up to 12,500 years ago, which is about 10,500 BCE. The site is now one of the largest known assortments of prehistoric rock art.

The European Research Council funded the British-Colombian team of researchers who found and kept secret the site that was discovered in 2019. The secrecy was in part due to continuing research on the area as well as prepping a documentary (“Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon”) set to be released by Channel4 this Decemeber. Ella Al-Shamahi is presenting the documentary and doubles as an archeologist/explorer.[1]

“The new site is so new, they haven’t even given it a name yet.”
– Ella Al-Shamahi

“Palaeo-anthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi… Photograph: Marie-Claire Thomas/Wild Blue Media”

The dating is founded on the presence of depictions of extinct animals from the ice age. Mastodons, giant sloths, palaeolama (ice age camels), ice age horses, fish, birds, lizards, turtles, and people have all been identified on the wall. José Iriarte is the lead researcher for the archeological team. He commented that the art is so detailed you can even see the hairs of the horses. Al-Shamahi commented that due to how high up on the wall some of the images are, they only visible using a drone. I figure a massive ladder might work too, but using a drone sounds more practical.

“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. …It’s interesting to see that many of these large animals appear surrounded by small men with their arms raised, almost worshipping these animals.”
– José Iriarte

As of right now, the purpose of the art is undetermined. What has been determined though is that the paintings are extremely remote and incredibly diverse. With San José del Guaviare as the starting point, the site is located 6 hours away. Two of those hours are passed with driving, the other four on foot. Al-Shamahi shared details about how on their journey they ran into a bushmaster, “the deadliest snake in the Americas with an 80% mortality rate”. They also had to avoid caimans with no chance of getting to a hospital if a wrong step was made. Luckily nobody was hurt and I think the feeling was unanimous that the trip was 100% worth the effort.

“Photograph: Marie-Claire Thomas/Wild Blue Media”

The wildlife was not the only threat involved in accessing the site. Fifty years of Columbian civil war between the Columbian government and the Farc guerrillas had turned the area hostile. The team had to enter Farc territory but have so far been unharmed.

“One of the most fascinating things was seeing ice age megafauna because that’s a marker of time. I don’t think people realise that the Amazon has shifted in the way it looks. It hasn’t always been this rainforest. When you look at a horse or mastodon in these paintings, of course they weren’t going to live in a forest. They’re too big. Not only are they giving clues about when they were painted by some of the earliest people – that in itself is just mind-boggling – but they are also giving clues about what this very spot might have looked like: more savannah-like.”
– Ella Al-Shamahi

José Iriarte believes only the tip of the iceberg has been touched and that there are many many more paintings to be discovered. Covid-19 has slowed their work but the team is unyielding in their efforts to get back out there. Episode two of Channel4’s “Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon” contains this site’s discover and airs on the 12th of December, 2020.

Due to conflicting reports, I wrote an article on the spread of the information through different news sources. If you want to see how false information made it mainstream news, check out that article. It is titled “The Sistine Chapel of the Ancients: News Examined“. I linked it twice in this paragraph because I think it’s important information for having an informed perspective on what’s going on with all of this.

According to an individual on Facebook, the discovery reportedly has already aired on television in New Zealand on the Choice channel in a series called “Discovering the Amazon”. I haven’t found any evidence beyond their testimony that the show did air last night (29 Nov. 2020) but I did find evidence that made me more inclined to believe them. That evidence being the “Choice On Demand” TV Guide for 30 Nov. 2020, which lists “Amazon the Lost World” as airing at 19:30 (aka 7:30pm). They’re also airing the same episode on Tuesday, the 1st of December, at 13:30 (aka 1:30pm). I didn’t see it listed on any other days through Sunday, the 6th of December.[2] Possibly though, this “early premiere” could be about a different site which appears to be getting confused with the one this article is about. As I have not seen the show, I cannot confirm. If you have seen the show, please contact me as I’d love to know where the exact location is and who the main presenters are.

“There are numerous hand prints among the images on the cliff face. Photograph: Marie-Claire Thomas/Wild Blue Media”
“View of rock art at the Cerro Azul hill in the Serrania La Lindosa – The Serrania La Lindosa, declared as a Protected Archaeological Site of Colombia ©AFP /Getty Images”[3]
“Archaeologist Ella Al-Shamahi is dwarfed in size by the cave drawings. Channel 4″[4]

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References:

[1] – https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/nov/29/sistine-chapel-of-the-ancients-rock-art-discovered-in-remote-amazon-forest. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

[2] – https://www.choicetv.co.nz/#!/tvguide. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

[3] – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/colombia-prehistoric-rock-art. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[4] – https://nypost.com/2020/11/30/thousands-of-ice-age-paintings-discovered-in-amazon-rainforest/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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2 Comments on “Eight Miles of Prehistoric Amazonian Wall Art Discovered

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