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Drought in the Amazon reveals millennia-old carvings

MANAUS (AP) – The Negro River, the major tributary that runs through the Brazilian Amazon, has reached historic lows, revealing millennia-old carvings previously hidden under water. The engravings deeply etched into the black rock along the riverbanks represent human faces, animals and other figures, and are thought to be 1,000 to 2,000 years old, archaeologists said.

“They allow us to understand the way of life of prehistoric populations,” archaeologist Jaime de Santana Oliveira with Brazil’s National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute, said.

The scientists think other rocks at the site were used to sharpen arrows and stone tools.

The Ponto das Lajes archaeological site is located in the rural area of Manaus, the largest city and capital of Amazonas state. From there, locals and tourists can observe the ‘meeting of waters’, which occurs when the dark, Coca-Cola-coloured Negro River and the pale, clay-coloured Solimoes River converge without merging and run parallel to each other over several miles.

The petroglyphs first were spotted in 2010, when another bad drought struck the region, but had not been observable since then before the current drought.

Rock paintings at the Ponta das Lajes archaeological site, in the rural area of Manaus, Brazil. PHOTO: AP