Scientists Reveal unprecedented details of ancient petroglyphs in Venezuela

Petroglyphs located in Venezuela, which include what are believed to be the largest examples of rock art recorded anywhere in the world, have been mapped in unprecedented detail archaeologists. The petroglyphs, some of which are believed to be up to 2,000 years old, include a number of various motifs, and depictions of animals, humans and cultural rituals.

The mapping has been carried out with the help of drones because several engravings are located in inaccessible areas.

The rock engravings located in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, which include some of the largest prehistoric illustrations in the world, have been mapped with unprecedented details by researchers from University College London in the United Kingdom, reports

This is an aerial image of monumental Cerro Pintado petroglyphs with an enhanced image overlay. Image credit: Dr. Philip Riris

The engravings (petroglyphs) are located in the area of the Raudales de Atures in the Orinoco River and are believed to be around 2,000 years old.

Experts explain that the petroglyphs include representations of animals, humans and cultural rites.

The largest panel, which contains at least 93 individual prints, is 304 square meters in diameter. Some of the figures measure several meters and the representation of a snake has a length of more than 30 meters.

Here is a top-down aerial perspective of the eastern panel with an interpretative overlay of the main engravings. Image Credit: Dr. Philip Riris.

The paper’s author Dr. Philip Riris (UCL Institute of Archaeology) said:

“The Rapids are an ethnic, linguistic and cultural convergence zone. The motifs documented here display similarities to several other rock art sites in the locality, as well as in Brazil, Colombia, and much further afield.
“This is one of the first studies that show the scope and depth of cultural connections with other areas of northern South America in pre-Columbian and colonial times,” he added.

The Petroglyphs are huge. Image Credit: Image Credit: Dr. Philip Riris.

Although these rock engravings have been studied previously, this is the most detailed investigation that has been done so far, so the authors hope to obtain more information about the archaeological and ethnographic context of the petroglyphs.

Principal Investigator, Dr. José Oliver (UCL Institute of Archaeology), said: “Our project focuses on the archaeology of Cotúa Island and its immediate vicinity of the Atures Rapids. Available archaeological evidence suggests that traders from diverse and distant regions interacted in this area over the course of two millennia before European colonization. The project’s aim is to better understand these interactions.”

The ancient Petroglyphs represent a number of different things. Image Credit: Dr. Philip Riris.

“Mapping the rock engravings represents a major step towards an enhanced understanding of the role of the Orinoco River in mediating the formation of pre-Conquest social networks throughout northern South America.”

The research is part of the Cotúa Island-Orinoco Reflexive Archaeology Project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.


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