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Evidence of 4,000-Year-Old ‘Lost’ Civilization Is Discovered in South America

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a lost civilization that once lived in South American at least 4,000 years ago.

They uncovered ancient drawings on a flat-top mountain in Venezuela, which featured colorful designs of dot patterns, leaf motifs and stick figures that may have been part of a mysterious ritual.

Lead researcher José Miguel Pérez-Gómez told that previous studies have found no signs of human activity in the region, suggesting the art was made by a previously unknown civilization.

The difference between the newly discovered group and other cultures is based solely ‘on stylistic comparisons to other places in the region,’ suggesting it could be ‘ground zero for the emerging of this culture.’

The rock art was discovered in Canaima National Park in Bolivar state that spans more than 11,500 square miles.

‘What we are seeing is a new culture of hunter-gatherers who likely arrived in the Canaima National Park area at the end of the Pleistocene,’ which lasted from between 2.5 million and 11,700 years ago,’ Pérez-Gómez said.

‘They settled, evolved there, and then spread to the rest of the region, reaching places as far as the Amazon Basin.’

Some of the drawings, like those that appeared to depict a leaf, are located in out-of-reach areas, and ‘situated on a clean oval-shaped rock space that may have inspired the artist to create this particular design,’ reads the study published in the journal Rock Art Research.

The hunter-gatherers used red ochre – a natural oxide pigment made from ground up clay, quartz and chalk – that had a slight orange hue.

Other motifs resembled claviforms, a club-shaped image or symbol, with faded figures underneath and surrounding it that could be a sign of successful hunting endeavors.

More research needs to be conducted to understand the meaning behind the drawings and what they represent, according to the study.

‘Stylistic comparisons so far show similarities to rock paintings near the Brazilian border, which have been dated to around 4,000 BP,’ he continued, adding: ‘However, the newly found rock art is much cruder, suggesting it could be even older.’


Although some drawings showed signs of organic disturbances such as lichen, algae, roots or wasp nests, the archaeologists noted the overhanging area of the mountain had preserved the panels.

‘These findings are exceptional because they are new to science, filling a gap in a region never before explored in archaeological terms,’ Pérez-Gómez said.

‘They also provide context for other regional studies in northern Brazil, the Guianas, and even southern Colombia.’

Pérez-Gómez said the depictions could be related to birth, disease, nature or hunting, but the location ‘probably had a meaning and an importance within the landscape, just as churches have a meaning for people today.’

The mountain’s location hinted at the type of people who may have created the drawings because it lies between the Arauak and Aparuren Rivers that flow in opposite directions.

The secondary river is connected to the Tirica River that drains into the Caroni River, positioning the mountain ‘at the center of a natural walkthrough in this valley for game migration,’ the study said.

Pérez-Gómez noted that faded graffiti was also found on the rock wall dating back to 1947 which appeared to belong to Spanish explorer Captain Felix Cardona Puig, who discovered the area.

Pottery fragments and stone tools also littered the area, suggesting they may have been used by the hunter-gatherers who created the art.

‘All this evidence indicates that we are in the presence of a new culture,’ Pérez-Gómez told

He and his co-author have called for the site to be protected and are optimistic that they will discover more rock art sites in the park which spans 11,583 square miles.

‘The park itself is larger than countries like El Salvador or Belgium, so it wouldn’t be surprising to find even more traces if research continues more in-depth, depending on resources,’ Pérez-Gómez told Axios.

The pair are working with researchers in neighboring countries to determine whether the same cultural groups made the rock art.

‘This is relevant not only for Venezuela but points at a cultural and ethnic richness that will enhance, worldwide, how we think about the region,’ said Pérez-Gómez.

  • tressa says:

    Cool find! Hope they are able to protect such sites so our young people can understand the past!
    Instead of tearing down our history here in the USA because of racist people don’t like our history!
    Remember all races were also slaves in those early days not just the blacks!

  • tressa says:

    Cool find! Hope they are able to protect such sites so our young people can understand the past!
    Instead of tearing down our history here in the USA because of racist people don’t like our history!
    Remember all races were also slaves in those early days not just the blacks!

  • vickie says:

    to me this is so exciting….i wish i had taken up the hobby as a digger to discover these things…so amazing…

  • DP says:

    They look just like Joe’s “drawings” that Jill sticks to their refrigerator.



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