The Serra de Capivara Cave Paintings

Ancient Art: The Serra da Capivara Cave Paintings (November 11 Night Thread)

Welcome to night three of my look at ancient art from around the globe.

The Serra da Capivara Cave Paintings

Photograph: Pedra Furada

Photograph: Pedra Furada

The vast Serra da Capivara National Park in the state of Piauí, Brazil, encompasses an area of 214 kilometres in circumference. Over three hundred archaeological sites dating back fifty thousand years have been uncovered, forcing a re-evaluation of the history of human settlement in the Americas.

The rock art found in these sites depict animals as well as battles amongst different tribes, hunting game, and opaque ceremonies. The dating of this art is controversial, however, and is based upon the calcite covering the paintings. The thickness of the limestone is how archaeologists have determined their age. If correct, this challenges the widely held view that the Americas were first colonised from the north, via the Bering Straits at around 10,000 BC, only moving down into Central and South America in the millennia thereafter.

“If they’re right, and there’s a great possibility that they are, that will change everything we know about the settlement of the Americas,” said Walter Neves, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of São Paulo whose own analysis of an 11,000-year-old skull in Brazil implies that some ancient Americans resembled aboriginal Australians more than they did Asians.

Have an awesome night everyone, and join me tomorrow for another look into prehistoric art from around the world.