Prehistoric rock art discovered in Colombia is being hailed as the "Sistine Chapel of the ancients". The eight-mile wall of art was created by the first humans of the Amazon some 12,500 years ago and now a wildlife filmmaker is sharing images and videos of the monumental artwork in a new documentary.
The ancient art documents the lives of what is now a lost South American civilisation, created by some of the first ever humans to reach the Amazon. Archaeologists discovered the eight-mile-long wall rock art in a remote and almost inaccessible part of the Northwestern Colombian Amazonian basin: the Serranía de la Lindosa mountain range. The detailed paintings depict life in this region when the rainforest was still a savannah some 12,000 years ago. Ice animals that are now extinct are represented in the drawings, including the mastadon, giant sloths and ice age horses.
According to the Observer, the discovery was made last year but the findings remained hidden until now as they were filmed for a new Channel 4 series in Britain called Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon. Presenter, Ella Al-Shamahi, told the newspaper that it will take generations to study these paintings, adding "the site is so new they haven't even given it a name yet."
Researchers are hailing the find as the "Sistine Chapel of the ancients" due to the intricate detail of the paintings, and the sheer size of the fresco. The team of British-Colombian researchers drove for two hours to reach the eight-mile wall, and hiked on foot for another four hours, passing through Farc territory and habitats of deadly predators like the Bushmaster viper. "This discovery is not a drill - it is big news and will take many decades to unpack, it was also a bloody nightmare politically, security and rainforest-wise to get to," Ella Al-Shamahi wrote on Twitter.
These yet unnamed site at Serranía de la Lindosa isn't the first discovery of ancient art work in the Colombian Amazon. Around 75,000 rock art paintings have been found in Chiribiquete National Park, one of the last frontiers of the modern world, and they're part of an ongoing study. The Serranias (mountain ranges) of Chiribiquete and La Lindosa are among the areas in Colombia that were closed to the public during the armed conflict and are now opening up to scientific researchers. The area is so vast and so remote that contact has still not been made with some indigenous tribes who live there.
Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon airs on Channel 4 on December 5 at 6.30pm GMT.
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