100 metres of hose, revealed in the impressive ancient rock art

A drone took this photo of rock art, high up on a mountain. Researchers of digital overlay for the highlight of the art in this image.

(Philip Riris, as recommended in the Ancient times)

Ancient rock art is not always easy to achieve, but a researcher in Venezuela has solved this challenge with a bit of modern technology: A camera-equipped drone zip over a rocky, watery landscape to photograph old works of art about the life of people, cultural rituals, and animals, a new study reports.

The drone-recorded engravings, in addition to the more accessible rock art along the Orinoco River in the west of Venezuela, are some of the greatest rock art found anywhere in the world, the researcher said. A panel of more than 3,200 square feet (304 square metres) and has 93 engravings. Another engraving shows a 98-foot-long (30 m) horned snake.

The carvings appear to date to pre-Colombian (before 1492) and the colonial period (1492 to the 19th century), said that the study of the author Philip Riris, an archaeologist at University College London in the United Kingdom. Some can be up to 2000 years old, he noted. [Photos: the world’s Oldest rock art]

“This is an important step in the direction of a better understanding of the role of the Orinoco River in mediating the formation of pre-conquest social networks in the north of South America,” Riris wrote in the study. (Pre-conquest refers to the time before the Norman conquest of England in 1066.)

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Scientists found the petroglyphs (in Greek, “petra” means “rock” and “glyph” translates to “carving”) on rock walls at temperatures around the Rapids (Raudales de atures), a place where the mighty Orinoco River flows through a narrow passage filled with granite boulders. Some of the petroglyphs were discovered by the historically low water levels in the Orinoco River in February 2015, Riris said.

In all, he found eight groups of petroglyphs on five islands, including on exposed bedrock outcrops at the rapids, Riris said.

It is not surprising then that the atures Rapids are filled with ancient petroglyphs. According to the myths of the Piaroa indigenous people who live in the middle of the Orinoco Basin, the rapids are seen as the birthplace of the sun and of Wahari, a mythological figure.

Some of the petroglyphs seem to illustrate myths from the different cultures of the regions. For example, the elongated horned snake may be a “myth of the description of the slaying of a monstrous serpent by the son of the creator god and culture hero Wahari,” Riris wrote in the study.

Other petroglyphs tones of a flute player surrounded by other human figures. This scene probably is an indigenous rite of renewal, ” he said. It is possible that this ritual coincided with a seasonal rise of the engravings during the harvest just before the rainy season, when the islands were easier to reach, Riris said.

The new petroglyphs are similar to rock art in Brazil and Colombia, and will help researchers understand the ancient cultures of the Orinoco River and how they may have influenced cultures further inland, Riris said.

However, petroglyph discoveries have not always greeted with such recognition.

In 1691, when the Jesuit missionaries visited an “oracle” in the at temperature region, they saw a number of the so-called pagan petroglyphs high on a hill.

“When our missionaries came to this place, Satan was silenced at once, and the Devil disappeared, the demonic reactions to stop now with the wonder and the admiration of the nations […] who had previously been treated with the demon so easily,” the missionares wrote. “With this, the polytheists knew that the power of God, and the power and the efficacy of the ministries against the powers of Hell.”

In contrast to the nearly 330-year-old account, Riris said that the new rock will help researchers to learn more about these ancient cultures. “These engravings are embedded in the daily how the people lived and traveled in the region, the importance of the resources, and the seasonal rhythmic rise and fall of the water,” he said in a statement. “The size of a number of individual engravings is very special.”

The study is published online Dec. 6 in the journal Antiquity.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct an error about the petroglyph hose length. It is 98 feet (30 m) long, not 305 feet (93 m) long.

Original article on Live Science.

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