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The World’s Largest Pre-Hispanic Rock Engravings Lie In Colombia And Venezuela, Possibly Used To Mark Territory Boundaries For Both Friends And Foes

R.M. Nunes - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

Found in Colombia and Venezuela are the world’s largest pre-Hispanic rock engravings, and they may have been used to mark boundaries of territories. The engravings were carved onto rock faces located along the Upper and Middle Orinoco Rivers.

Researchers from the Institute of Archaeology at the University College of London have been studying the history of pre-Columbian occupation in the region since 2015. They have compiled a list of over 100 rock art sites in the area that feature thousands of motifs.

Now, researchers with the University of the Andes in Colombia are utilizing that wealth of information to look into how monumental rock art formed around the Middle Orinoco River.

Monumental rock art refers to engravings with particularly large motifs that are located at prominent points of the landscape.

They mapped out more than a dozen rock art sites using drone photography and other technology. Many of the sites were already known, but they also discovered several new ones.

These sites contained the world’s largest monumental rock engravings, with some measuring over 130 feet long.

The engravings included images of human figures and giant centipedes. There were also snakes that might have been anacondas or boa constrictors, which are important in local Indigenous beliefs.

The largest carving of all was a depiction of a snake that was about 141 feet in length. It was found in Cerro Pintado in Venezuela. Scientists were already aware of this example, which is thought to be the largest single rock engraving in the entire world.

“These monumental sites are truly big, impressive sites, which we believe were meant to be seen from some distance away,” said Philip Riris, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. “We know that anacondas and boas are associated with not just the creator deity of some of the Indigenous groups in the region, but that they are also seen as lethal beings that can kill people and large animals.”

R.M. Nunes – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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