Imagine tens of thousands of paintings lining rocks across the hills.
Scientists found this exact scene in the Amazon, with prehistoric paintings spanning across eight whole miles!
This discovery is one of the largest collections of prehistoric art ever in the Colombian Amazon. It was created during the Ice Age and is over 12,600 years old.
The people who drew the paintings used a reddish mineral pigment called ochre, which does not wash away or disappear. As a result, the artwork is preserved very well, and in fact, is highly detailed for such an ancient work.
The drawings show handprints, geometric shapes, and many animals from the Ice Age. Some paintings are so high up on the rocks that they can only be observed by drones. Researchers believe that the ancient people used wooden towers and ladders to paint at such heights.
The prehistoric artwork also provides insight into what life in the Amazon was like thousands of years ago.
Amazon During The Ice Age
Did you know that the landscape of the Amazon was very different from what it is like today?
Even though we cannot imagine the Amazon as anything but a giant tropical rainforest, the Amazon was once a combination of savannas and thorn scrubs. About 12,600 to 11,800 years ago, when the Ice Age ended and temperatures rose, the Amazon began transforming into a forest.
The subjects of prehistoric paintings confirm this theory. The newest collection of prehistoric art depicts large animals such as mastodons, giant sloths, horses, and camelids. These animals could not live in forests due to their large size, indicating that the Amazon was once very similar to a savanna.
Life In Prehistoric Amazon
Not only do the paintings show large extinct animals, but also small animals like deer, monkeys, and snakes. The paintings also depict humans hunting herbivores as large as modern cars!
The artwork as well as excavations in the caves tell us about what ancient humans in the Amazon ate, including palm and tree fruits, piranhas, alligators, serpents, frogs, rodents, and armadillos.
Researchers also learned about the way of life for this ancient society. Some drawings are of tiny humans surrounding and worshipping large animals, showing that these people believed life was sacred. Others depict people dancing, wearing bird-like masks, and holding hands.
Scientists are hoping to understand more about the people who once lived in the ancient Amazon. It may take decades to go through these tens of thousands of drawings!
Sources: LiveScience, CNN, Guardian, Business Insider