Science & Tech

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old art from never-before-seen culture

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old art from never-before-seen culture

From left: An enhanced view of the rock art; one of the areas in Canaima National Park where it was found

(José Miguel Pérez-Gómez)

Archaeologists have just discovered evidence of a “previously unknown” ancient culture that had been lost to the sands of time.

A team of experts discovered 30 rock art sites dating back thousands of years in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park.

But the most exciting part of the find was realising that its creators belonged to a never-before-seen civilisation.

The newfound art "represents a new culture previously unknown," the team’s lead José Miguel Pérez-Gómez, of Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, told Live Science.

The pictograms and petroglyphs include simple depictions of leaves and stick figure drawings of people, as well as star-shaped patterns and other geometric designs.

Pérez-Gómez admitted that it was unclear why people created this art, saying: “It is almost impossible to get into the minds of people living so many [thousands of] years ago"

But, he added that the images "definitely had a ritual meaning."

He suggested that the different pictures may have related to birth, diseases, natural renewal or prosperous hunting.

Even the location of the artwork "most probably had a meaning and an importance within the landscape, just as the churches have a meaning for people today," Pérez-Gómez added.

The stunning artwork features a range of different pictograms and petroglyphs (José Miguel Pérez-Gómez)

So far, researchers haven’t been able to determine the precise age of the ancient drawings. However, similar rock art found in Brazil has been dated to around 4,000 years ago.

Yet, Pérez-Gómez believes that the Venezuela findings may be even older.

Canaima National Park is huge – roughly the size of Belgium – and is made up of forests and mountainous terrain.

Perhaps its most famous feature is Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall (on land) in the world.

The park may have been the "ground zero" where this mysterious culture first developed, Pérez-Gómez told Live Science.

Then, he posited, the people may later have moved on to places as distant as the Amazon river, the Guianas and even southern Colombia, all of which house similar ancient artwork to the newly found examples in Venezuela.

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