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Present-day Colombia's deep Amazon rainforest was once home to early human settlers who painted pictures of their surroundings on rocks. Recently, a remote area called Serranía de la Lindosa has revealed an 8-mile cliff that is covered in thousands of drawings. The detailed illustrations in the collection date to a time when the world was beginning to warm after the Ice Age, roughly 11,800–12,600 years ago. The public is only now getting a first look at this ancient site, which was discovered in 2017 by researchers from Britain and Colombia. It will be featured in the Channel 4 series Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon. 

This stunning example of prehistoric art has been dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the ancients,” and it promises to reveal important information about prehistoric South Americans.

In order to conduct research on the cliffs of Serranía de la Lindosa, archaeologists had to obtain permission from the Colombian government as well as the local rebel forces who were not affiliated with them. Access to the location also required a five-hour walk. The sheer quantity of individual paintings—tens of thousands, as of yet uncounted—amazed researchers. The Amazon region's native flora and fauna are depicted alongside prehistoric humans, drawn in red ochre, a natural clay pigment. The contemporary observer can recognise fish, lizards, and porcupines. Along with these extinct animals, the region is home to giant sloths, mastodons, and palaeolama. Unlike the contemporary rainforest, these animals lived in an environment of savanna and scrub brush.

There are also images of prehistoric people in the old artwork. They hunt, dance, and don masks. "The paintings give a vivid and exciting glimpse [into] the lives of these communities," stated archaeologist Mark Robinson in a statement. At this point, researchers examining the paintings can only speculate as to the significance of particular scenes. They do, however, have confidence that the paintings found in Serranía de la Lindosa will yield important insights into prehistoric human behaviour and interactions with other animals. One peculiar behaviour that is shown is people hanging from or leaping from wooden towers. These kinds of structures, according to the researchers, could help to explain why the ancient artists painted scenes on the cliff wall that were significantly taller than the average human. 

Cliff art conserves a world whose environment is changing. Around the time the rock art was produced, at the end of the last Ice Age, the Amazon rainforest started to form as it does today. The host of Jungle Mystery, Ella Al-Shamahi, is an explorer and archaeologist. She finds rock art to be an exciting discovery that will require years of documentation and study. "Observing ice age megafauna, which is a marker of time, was one of the most fascinating things," the speaker claims. People may not be aware of the changes to the Amazon's appearance. This jungle hasn't always existed. 

Cliff paintings preserve a world whose surroundings are ever-changing. The Amazon rainforest began to form as it does today around the time the rock art was created, at the end of the last Ice Age. Ella Al-Shamahi, the host of Jungle Mystery, is an archaeologist and explorer. She thinks rock art is an amazing find that will take years of research and documentation. "One of the most fascinating things was seeing ice age megafauna, which is a time marker," the speaker says. It's possible that people are unaware of the changes to Amazon's look. There wasn't always a jungle here. 

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