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The Sistine Chapel of Ancients


Tens of thousands of pristine cave paintings painted on an eight-mile stretch of rock were recently found in a unique discovery in a century in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia.

GIPRI Colombia / YouTube

Hailed as the “Sistine Chapel of the Ancients,” it is the world-changing kind of discovery of archeology.

Believed to be 12,500 years old, the art is extremely detailed and includes handprints and depictions of Ice Age megafauna such as the mastodon, a relative of the mammoth, Ice Age horses, and giant ground sloths.

The discovery, made in Chiribiquete National Park in southern Colombia, was actually made last year, but has been kept secret because it is the set of an important documentary called Mystery of the Jungle: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon.

Archaeologists presumably also want to set aside as much time as they can to study the art on their own, as the news could draw thousands of tourists, or even looters and artifact hunters to the site.

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The discoverers suspect that the works could have been carried out by Paleolithic hunters who crossed the Bering land bridge to the new world from Siberia.

Of majesty and mystery

A joint Colombian-British team made the discovery, led by José Iriarte, a professor of archeology at the University of Exeter, who spoke about the sheer power of literally tens of thousands of different images, some of which are so well done that they include horses. . Tails with individual painted hairs.

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“When you are there, your emotions flow … We are talking about several tens of thousands of paintings. It will take generations to register them … Every turn you make is a new wall of paintings, ”he said. saying the observer.

GIPRI Colombia / YouTube

To further complicate the mystery, the paintings cover almost every inch, even on the cliff walls, where they were only clearly seen when the archaeologist blew up the flying camera drones.

“I’m 5 feet 10 inches tall and I’d be breaking my neck looking up. How were they climbing those walls? “said paleoarchaeologist Ella Al-Shamahi, who will present the new documentary.

Along with large mammals, birds, fish, lizards, masked figures that often dance are also painted here.

Hallucinogenic trees and plants are also represented, which was not a surprise for Iriarte, who pointed out that “for the Amazonian peoples, non-humans such as animals and plants have souls, and they communicate and relate to people from cooperative or hostile way through the rituals and shamanic practices that we see represented in rock art “.

Chiribiquete was an area that was controlled by the anti-government paramilitary organization FARC until recently, when they signed a truce with Bogotá, which is probably one of the reasons why it has taken so long to discover such an enormous treasure of cave paintings.

GIPRI Colombia / YouTube

Al-Shamahi recalled, according to the guardian, that “when we entered FARC territory, it was exactly how some of us have been shouting for a long time. The exploration is not over. Scientific discovery is not over, but great discoveries will now be found in disputed or hostile places. “

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The team will be back, searching the surrounding areas for more paintings as soon as COVID-19 allows.

Until then, Mystery of the Jungle: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon It will debut on Channel 4 UK at 6:30 PM GMT on December 5.

(CLOCK the GIPRI Colombia discovery story in the video below).

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