20,000 Year Old Rock Paintings Discovered in Remote Colombian Jungle
Shooting a nature film about the vast, unexplored Colombian wilderness, documentarian Mike Slee and his crew have discovered rock paintings believed to be up to 20,000 years old.
Hundreds of paintings have been found on rock faces in the 3 million hectare Chiribiquete national park, but Slee was the first to photograph and film the paintings in the remote Cerro Campa area, which must be reached by helicopter, the Guardian reports.
“There’s no information, maps or communication. It’s such a massive central part of Colombia,” Slee told the Guardian. “It was an absolutely stunning moment to be able to get the footage.”
Painted in red, mineral-based, iron-oxide pigments, making them impossible to carbon date, the paintings depict animals like jaguar, crocodiles, deer, capybara, snakes, and anteaters, as well as human figures.
“They reveal the hand of a master of painting,” said Professor Fernando Urbina, a rock art specialist at the National University of Colombia.
The paintings were likely created for ritual reasons by an indigenous tribe, perhaps the Karjona tribe, some of whom still live in Chiribiquete. While these paintings could be as old as 20,000 years, the world’s oldest known paintings are thought to be about 40,000 years old.
Slee’s upcoming film, Colombia: Wild Magic, aims to show the world the unexplored Colombian landscape, but in the future he wishes to return to the park to focus on the rock paintings.
Earlier this year, archaeologists in Honduras found an ancient city of a civilization so unknown, it doesn’t have a name yet.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.