The Sistine Chapel of the Ancients: News Examined

I published an article yesterday (30 Nov. 2020) around 12:30pm about an almost 8 mile long stretch of wall covered in prehistoric art.[1] My article was a news article fundamentally based on The Guardian’s post about the rock art discovered in 2019 that is going to be featured in an upcoming documentary this month (Dec. 2020). It wasn’t long before the critics were taking their best shots at invalidating my report. I don’t mind critics though, and given that there were so few of them I was able to look into each of their claims. The process of looking into their claims is kind of what lead to this article that you’re currently reading.

I think the most common critique was that the site mentioned in the news article isn’t new at all and had been known about for at least 5 years. Another critique is that this isn’t the first spot that had been called the “Sistine Chapel of the ancients”. The person claiming that linked to me an article from September 6th, 2020 that called a different site “”Capilla Sixtina” de la arqueología de América” (“Sistine Chapel” of archeology in America).[2] Two different names, but both using the Sistine Chapel for dramatic effect.

After writing this article, I think it’s safe to say that all this confusion was caused by The Daily Mail, who got the location wrong for the recently announced rock art. They said it was discovered in Chiribiquete when in reality it was discovered in the Serranía de la Lindosa. This caused confusion because the site from 2015[3] was discovered in Chiribiquete and so I think when some people saw this they thought that the media was just trying to hype up old news for a new documentary. I don’t know why The Daily Mail got the location wrong. I think The Guardian was clear that the new site was in the Serranía de la Lindosa and not Chiribiquete.

There were many instances of plagiarism which I found but as I wrote this article I felt increasingly less inclined to pin point each and every instance. There are still more examples to be highlighted if anyone reading this feels up to the task of doing so.

Including the original article by The Guardian, I had 17 articles included in my analysis. Out of those 17, more got the location wrong than right. Here is the data:
Correct: 1, 8, 13, 15, 16, 17 (6 total)
Incorrect: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 14 (7 total)
N/A: 4, 9, 10, 11 (4 total)

The sources that I think plagiarized content are 5, 6, 7, 12, and 17 (5 total).

I use The Guardian and The Observer synonymously in this article.

1 – The Guardian – November 29th, 2020 at 5:00am

I found The Guardian’s article through International Business Times’ (IBT) article[4] which was posted on November 29, 2020 at 21:58 +08. I didn’t use IBT’s article in my post because it contained a lot of mosaic plagiarism (patchwriting) from The Guardian. Looking back on it though, IBT did provide an image of a Twitter post by one of the main people involved in the announcement, namely Ella Al-Shamahi.

I found Ella’s Twitter and enjoyed reading through her Tweets. Ella appears to me to have been following some of the news publications and also noted the confusion in location between the two “Sistine Chapels” I mentioned earlier. Aside from that, the Tweet used by IBT was made by Ella two hours after The Guardian posted their article and Ella provided a link to The Guardian’s article.

It does appear to me that The Guardian was the first source to post about this specific discovery. They also reported the correct location for the find.

2 – The Daily Mail – November 29th, 2020 at 12:41 EST

The Daily Mail (TDM) got the location of the site incorrect, possibly leading to the aforementioned confusion. They claimed the site is located in the Chiribiquete National Park when in reality it is located in Serranía de La Lindosa, as is noted by the original article by The Guardian and later by Ella Al-Shamahi on Twitter. Oddly enough, Serranía de La Lindosa is shown on the map near the bottom of The Daily Mail’s article.[5]

3 – Nation Online – November 29th, 2020 at 12:41 EST

Nation Online posted the exact same article as TDM and attributed its authorship to one of the two authors which TDM named.[6]

4 – The Times of Israel – November 30th, 2020 at 9:14am

The Times of Israel provided a link to the documentary on Channel4. They also provided a Tweet from @alfonslopeztena posted at 12:11pm on November 29th, 2020 which linked The Guardian’s article. All in all their information looks to be accurate. The Times of Israel is the first source to cite The Daily Mail that I’m aware of but they avoided reporting the incorrect location.[7]

5 – Unilad – November 30th, 2020 at 9:35am

Unilad also got the location wrong. I think it’s because they based their information on TDM’s article. They also appear to have done some patchwriting based on TDM’s article but they didn’t cite TDM anywhere. They did cite The Guardian though.[8]

6 – The Independent – November 30th, 2020

The Independent published a short article in which they got the location of the discovery incorrect. I assume this is again the result of the error published by TDM, a source which was not cited by The Independent. They also appear to me to have plagiarized from The Israel Times, not citing them either. The Israel Times had an opening paragraph and then the first words on the second paragraph read “Dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, the…”. This is exactly the same as The Independent who had an opening paragraph and then the first words on the second paragraph read “Dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, the…”. They did provide a link to The Guardian’s article.[9]

7 – Metro – November 30th, 2020 at 10:52am

Metro is also guilty of plagiarism as well as providing an incorrect location for the site. I think this one might be the most blatant example of using the TDM as an uncited source source. They took a full sentence from TDM and also took the picture of the map that I commented about earlier. Metro’s map does cite TDM but their article doesn’t have a link to TDM’s anywhere. They did cite and provide a link to The Guardian.[10]

8 – Observer – November 30th, 2020 at 12:27pm

Not to be confused with The Observer, Observer reported the correct location and provided accurate citations for their information.[11]

9 – The New York Post – November 30th, 2020 at 12:58pm

The New York Post appears to me to have reported correct information and citations.[17]

10 – The Hill – November 30th, 2020 at 2:56pm EST

The Hill appears to me to have reported correct information and citations.[18]

11 – The Daily Caller – November 30th, 2020 at 3:59pm ET

The Daily Caller accurately cited The Guardian as the source for their information but they got the time wrong for how long the team walked on foot to get to the archeological site. The Guardian reported it was a 4 hour walk on foot while The Daily Caller halved that and reported it was a 2 hour walk on foot.[19]

12 – News18 – November 30th, 2020 at 17:01 IST

News18 is another source guilty of plagiarism as well as providing an incorrect location for the site. However, they did cite and link TDM’s article, so at least they were open about where they obtained their information.[12]

13 – Lonely Planet – November 30th, 2020

Lonely Planet reported the correct location and provided accurate citations for their information.[13]

14 – The Daily Express – December 1st, 2020 at 4:16am

The Daily Express got the location wrong, cited The Observer, and did not cite The Daily Mail.[14]

15 – The Times – December 1st, 2020 at 12:01am

The Times posted about this but the article is mostly hidden behind a paywall that I don’t have access to. The portion that is available for free did get the location of the find correct.[15]

16 – Ancient Origins – December 1st, 2020 at 16:48

Ancient Origins reported the correct location and provided accurate citations for their information.[16]

17 – The Australian – December 1st, 2020 at 5:31pm

The Australian reported the correct location and provided accurate citations for their information. I think they plagiarized but the article is now hidden behind a paywall so I can’t say for sure.[20]

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References:

[1] – https://ctruth.today/2020/11/30/eight-miles-of-prehistoric-amazonian-wall-art-discovered/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[2] – https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-53947778. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[3] – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/20/colombia-wilderness-film-maker-prehistoric-rock-art. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[4] – https://www.ibtimes.sg/archaeologists-discover-12500-year-old-rock-art-portraying-humans-animals-remote-amazon-forest-53763. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[5] – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8998147/Eight-mile-wall-prehistoric-paintings-animals-humans-discovered-Amazon-rainforest.html. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[6] – https://www.nation.lk/online/eight-mile-wall-of-prehistoric-paintings-of-animals-and-humans-is-discovered-in-amazon-rainforest-27525.html. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[7] – https://www.timesofisrael.com/sistine-chapel-of-the-ancients-rock-art-found-in-amazon-forest/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[8] – https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/the-sistine-chapel-of-the-ancients-discovered-in-amazon-rainforest/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[9] – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/colombia-rock-art-amazon-rainforest-b1763761.html. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[10] – https://metro.co.uk/2020/11/30/sistine-chapel-of-the-ancients-eight-mile-wall-of-prehistoric-cave-paintings-discovered-13675863/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[11] – https://observer.com/2020/11/prehistoric-rock-art-discovered-colombia-8-miles-long/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[12] – https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/12500-year-old-rock-art-discovered-in-colombia-was-created-by-first-humans-of-the-amazon-3130859.html. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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

[14] – https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1366441/archaeology-news-sistine-chapel-rock-art-amazon-rainforest-tribes-evg. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[15] – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/amazon-paintings-reveal-ice-age-civilisation-lvzb8xtb0. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[16] – https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/colombian-art-0014608. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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

[18] – https://thehill.com/homenews/news/528005-archeologists-discover-thousands-of-ancient-rock-wall-paintings-in-amazon. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[19] – https://dailycaller.com/2020/11/30/amazon-rainforest-rock-art-colombia-prehistoric/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

[20] – https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/the-times/from-depths-of-the-amazon-the-sistine-chapel-of-rock-art/news-story/e2b299dfa406e31a5798dd699677e902. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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