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Take a tour of ‘The Sistine Chapel of the Ancients’3 min read

December 8, 2020 3 min read

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Take a tour of ‘The Sistine Chapel of the Ancients’3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A fascinating discovery has been made in the Amazonian rainforest —Archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans from 12,500 years ago across cliff faces in Columbia, in the Serranía de la Lindosa.

The age of these paintings has been estimated based on some of the animals depicted such as mastodon that has been extinct for at least 12,000 years.

Though it’s too soon to be given a name, the site is affectionately being called “The Sistine Chapel of the Ancients.” 


Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
What is the Sistine Chapel?
The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the official home of the Pope in Vatican City, that commemorates Pope Sixtus IV. It has beautiful artwork on its wall, and ceilings created by the legendary Michelangelo. It took him 4 years to paint the ceiling!

The art in Sistine Chapel is famous all over the world for its details and narrative.


The discovery was made by a British-Columbian team, headed by Jose Iriarte, professor of archaeology at Exeter University. The European Research Council funded the exploration.

Though, this remarkable discovery was made in 2019 but was kept under the wraps as it was being filmed for a series to be screened in December: Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon. 

Why is this discovery so exciting?

Because it has opened up a lost world to us- the Amazon from 12,500 years ago!
The paintings depict a wide spectrum of life forms such as birds, turtles, fascinating creatures from the past like ice age horses among others. In some images humans can be seen holding hands, dancing and also worshipping some large animals. This gives us a peek into the way an ancient civilization lived. The paintings also shed light on how the the Amazon has shifted in the way it looks.
The large animals depicted in the paintings could not survive in the forest that we see, now! This gives us insights into the way the largest forest cover has shaped over the course of time.

Sourced from The Guardian

In terms of size the paintings range from hand-sized works to much larger works that require drones to simply view them. The material used to create these works of art is natural clay earth pigment called ochre, which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. This gives the paintings the terra-cotta red color.

Sourced from The Guardian

Studying such images is going to take many years and archaeologists are excited at the possibilities that lie ahead. 

This discovery indicates that there is so much waiting to be explored.
It is curiosity and a never ending love for learning that allows us to discover these lost worlds that remain hidden in remote corners of our planet.

Image sourced from The Guardian

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