Archaeologists Uncover a ‘Lost’ 4,000-Year-Old Civilization in South America

By: Georgia | Published: Jul 07, 2024

Hidden for millennia, a civilization lost to time has been unearthed in South America, casting new light on ancient cultures. 

According to lead researcher José Miguel Pérez-Gómez, who spoke with DailyMail.com, this discovery in Venezuela’s remote mountains unveils vibrant ancient drawings, a first of its kind for the region.

Mystical Art on Mountain Walls

The rock art found includes colorful dot patterns, leaf motifs, and stick figures, possibly used in age-old rituals. 

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A large, rugged rock formation in a grassy field under a clear blue sky in Canaima National Park, Venezuela

Source: José Miguel Pérez-Gómez/Proyecto Arqueológico Canaima

“Previous studies found no signs of human activity here, suggesting a previously unknown civilization,” Pérez-Gómez revealed to the Daily Mail, making every etching a tantalizing mystery.

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From Obscurity to Spotlight

Imagine a culture so distinct that its existence redefines our historical narratives. 

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Close-up view of ancient red ochre rock art showing various faded geometric and animal shapes on a rock surface

Source: José Miguel Pérez-Gómez/Proyecto Arqueológico Canaima

The styles observed are unique to this region, hinting at a “ground zero for the emerging of this culture,” noted Pérez-Gómez, painting a picture of a civilization blossoming in isolation.

Canaima's Ancient Inhabitants

The expansive Canaima National Park, covering over 11,500 square miles, was once home to hunter-gatherers at the end of the Pleistocene era. 

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Panoramic view of a wide river with mist rising, bordered by lush forests and a flat-topped mountain in the background, in Canaima National Park

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pérez-Gómez shared with the Daily Mail that these early settlers “evolved there and then spread across the region,” leaving behind clues in their art.

Art in High Places

Some drawings are strategically placed in hard-to-reach spots, surrounded by natural beauty that likely inspired ancient artists. 

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An archaeologist climbing a ladder to examine ancient rock paintings on a vertical rock face

Source: José Miguel Pérez-Gómez/Proyecto Arqueológico Canaima

“Situated on a clean oval-shaped rock space,” the Rock Art Research journal suggests these were not random doodles but meaningful symbols.

The Colors of Antiquity

Red ochre was the palette of choice for these ancient artists, utilizing natural pigments to create slight orange hues in their artwork. 

Side-by-side comparison of a rock art image with a scale, showing a detailed red ochre painting alongside an enhanced version highlighting its features

Source: José Miguel Pérez-Gómez/Proyecto Arqueológico Canaima

This choice of color links them to broader traditions in ancient art, suggesting shared techniques across distant cultures.

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Symbols of Survival and Success

Claviforms and faded figures depict scenes that could represent successful hunts, connecting daily survival with artistic expression.

A man wearing a hat and using a professional camera to photograph ancient rock art on a large stone surface in a wooded area

Source: proyectoarqueologicocanaima/Instagram

“These motifs could be a sign of successful hunting endeavors,” the study hints, weaving tales of life and death.

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Crude Drawings, Deep Meanings

“The newly found rock art is much cruder, suggesting it could be even older,” Pérez-Gómez said.

Detailed red ochre rock painting showing geometric patterns and dot designs

Source: proyectoarqueologicocanaima/Instagram

This primitive style may hold the key to understanding the genesis of regional artistic expressions.

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Preserved by Nature

Despite the challenges of time—lichen, algae, roots—the mountain’s overhanging areas have preserved these art panels from the ravages of weather and decay.

A man lying on his back under a rock shelf, using a camera to photograph rock art from an unconventional angle

Source: proyectoarqueologicocanaima/Instagram

This allows us a glimpse into a world long gone but not forgotten.

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A Cultural Puzzle Piece

“This discovery fills a gap in a region never before explored in archaeological terms,” Pérez-Gómez said

Close-up view of a red ochre rock painting on a rough surface

Source: proyectoarqueologicocanaima/Instagram

Each finding not only adds to the local history but also connects dots across northern Brazil and the Guianas.

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Sacred Spaces and Ancient Faces

Pérez-Gómez speculates that these sites held significant cultural meaning, akin to modern sacred spaces.

Close-up view of a rock surface with red ochre paintings, showing intricate textures and patterns

Source: proyectoarqueologicocanaima/Instagram

“The location probably had a meaning and importance within the landscape, just as churches today,” he suggests, hinting at a spiritual connection to these ancient artworks.

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A Path Forward for Discovery

With an area larger than some countries, Canaima’s potential for further discoveries is vast.

Wide panoramic view showing a distinctive rock formation resembling a mountain peak, with vast plains and other mountain ranges in the background under a cloudy sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“It wouldn’t be surprising to find even more traces if research continues,” Pérez-Gómez optimistically noted to Axios, inviting the world to keep an eye on this astonishing archaeological frontier.

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