Tens of thousands of prehistoric paintings have been found on rocks in Colombia’s Amazon rainforest. According to a report by the Guardian, archaeologists are calling the works “the Sistine Chapel of the ancients,” with the creations dating as far back as 12,500 years ago. Depicted in the newly discovered paintings human figure, ice age animals, handprints, and abstracted forms,
The paintings were reportedly uncovered by experts last year, but their existence was kept under wraps because they figure in the new television series Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon on Britain’s Channel 4. The team that found the rock paintings was funded by the European Research Council and led by José Iriarte, an archaeology professor at Exeter University in England.
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Iriarte told the Guardian that, due to the sheer volume of paintings on the rocks, “It’s going to take generations to record them,” adding that “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.”
Ella Al-Shamahi, the paleo-anthropologist who hosts the Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon series, was stuck by the size of the paintings, which cover much of a tall cliff face. Upon encountering them, Al-Shamahi said, “I’m 5-feet 10-inches and I would be breaking my neck looking up. How were they scaling those walls?”
Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon showcases the paintings in its second episode, which airs on December 12.