The Amazon still hides amazing discoveries that truly captivate both historians and naturalists – once there are ancient civilizations, and the plant world in the various rainforests like anywhere else.
Drawings on stone walls – historical witnesses
In the Amazon rainforest, Colombia, one of the largest collections of prehistoric rock drawings in the world was unveiled in 2020. Archaeologists who named the discovery “Sistine Chapel of the Ancient People” found tens of thousands of animal drawings and humans created on the rocks 12,500 years ago more than 12 miles in length.
Researchers believe the drawings are so old that they depict animals that died in the ice age, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric family of an elephant that had not lived in South America for at least 12,000 years.
There are also pictures of already extinct species of camels, giant slugs and horses from the Ice Age. The drawings show fish, turtles, lizards and birds, as well as people dancing or holding hands and several other scenes.
Where the cliffs were found so far that after a two-hour drive from San Jose del Guavia, a team of archaeologists walked for about four more hours. But it was definitely worth it, because the drawings provide an insight into ancient civilization and, according to researchers, it will be studied by several generations due to the large number.
A network of villages in the middle of the forest was developed
With the help of various modern technologies, researchers have also been able to find homes for ancient civilizations – a vast and long abandoned network of circular and rectangular villages, which may have been built between 1300 and 1700.
25 circular castle hill villages and 11 rectangular villages were discovered. Unfortunately, 15 castle villages were so poorly preserved that they could not be divided into circular or rectangular categories. The average diameter of the circular castle hill villages was 86 meters, while the rectangular villages were smaller, with an average length of about 45 meters.
The discovery is part of an archaeological mission to explore the Amazon before Christopher Columbus. Over the past 20 years, researchers have learned that the southern edges of rainforests have been home to a wide variety of crops.
In the analysis of the villages, the researchers concluded that the inhabitants had carefully planned their travel route. Each circular village had two main roads that were wide and deep, and smaller roads that led to nearby rivers.
It is also important to note that most of the villages were close to each other – only about 4.4 miles away. The main roads often connect one village with another, creating an extensive network of communities in the rainforest.
Nature research is also in full swing
Researchers estimate that 40% of undiscovered tree species are found in South America, with a higher proportion of undiscovered trees than on any other continent. South America is also estimated to have the largest number of rare tree species (about 8,200) and the highest proportion of tree species on the continent alone (about 49%).
Peter Reich, a forest ecologist at the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan, says many of these unknown tree species are likely to be unique in the Amazon and regions where the Andes meet rainforests.
These studies make forest conservation a top priority in South America. Protecting the Amazon is particularly important today, as deforestation, man-made fires and climate change have destroyed about 17% of forests over the last 50 years.