2,000-year-old rock art with nearly 140-foot-long snake found along the Colombia-Venezuela Orinoco River

By Jurassic JennJun 8, 2024 13:37 PMScience
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2,000-year-old rock art with nearly 140-foot-long snake found along the Colombia-Venezuela Orinoco River
2,000-year-old rock art with nearly 140-foot-long snake found along the Colombia-Venezuela Orinoco River. Source: www.livescience.com

Ancient territories in Colombia and Venezuela are believed to have been marked by impressive rock art, some dating back approximately 2,000 years. The astonishing rock engravings were recently fully mapped using photography and drone footage by a team of archaeologists. Spanning across 14 sites along the Upper and Middle Orinoco River, these masterpieces featuring human and animal motifs were strategically located, possibly intended to be visible along the Atures Rapids, an important trade and travel route. The research suggests this placement serves as a means of territorial demarcation, indicating the domain of the indigenous populations residing in the area.

The monumental engravings, which include an awe-inspiring 138-foot-long motif, predominantly feature depictions of snakes such as boa constrictors and anacondas. The significance of these reptiles in the myths and beliefs of the local indigenous people highlights their relevance to the rock art. The snakes symbolize the creator deity for some of these indigenous groups and are associated with lethality, possibly serving as a warning to outsiders encroaching upon their territory.

Taking note of a pottery artifact bearing a striking resemblance to one of the snake motifs depicted in the rock art, researchers believe the two forms of art to be contemporaneous. The discovery of this pottery further supports the estimated age of the rock art, placing it at around 2,000 years. Interestingly, several new locations were also identified during the mapping project, adding to the burgeoning understanding of the region's rich historical heritage.

Considering the cultural and historical value of these remarkable sites, the research team has taken steps to register them with relevant national heritage bodies in both Colombia and Venezuela. Collaborative efforts with local Indigenous groups are underway to ensure the adequate protection and preservation of these precious rock art sites, particularly as tourism in the region grows. It is crucial to safeguard their existence and engage with the Indigenous communities who have the inherent knowledge and custodial abilities needed to safeguard these invaluable remnants of ancient history.

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