Drought in Brazil reveals ancient engravings

A series of ancient underwater etchings has been uncovered near the jungle city of Manaus, following a drought in the Brazilian Amazon.

The previously submerged images, engraved on rocks, could be up to 7,000 years old were reportedly discovered by a fisherman after part of the Amazon river, fell to its lowest level in more than 100 years last month leaving thousands of people stranded.

Though water levels are now rising again, partly covering the apparently stone age etchings, local researchers photographed them before they began to disappear under the river’s dark waters.

Archaeologists who have studied the photographs believe the art which features images of faces and snakes is another indication that thousands of years ago the Amazon was already home to large civilisations.

Eduardo Neves, president of the Brazilian Society of Archaeology and a leading Amazon scholar, said the etchings appeared to have been made between 3,000 and 7,000 years ago when water levels in the region were lower. The etchings were “further, undeniable evidence” that the region had been occupied by a significant number of ancient settlements and people.

“There has always been this idea that the Amazon was empty. The truth is that this hypothesis is not correct. In many parts of the Amazon we now have proof of settlements,” he said, adding that the discovery was of great scientific importance.

Recent years have seen a growing number of archaeologists studying the Amazon, revising previous theories that the rainforest was too inhospitable to host a major civilisation.

With soy farmers, loggers and urban settlements advancing, cataloguing and preserving ancient Amazon sites had become a race against time. Neves said he hoped the latest find would boost efforts to preserve the rainforest and its ancient secrets.

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