The Stunning Rock Art of Serranía de la Lindosa

I would dearly love to see this art firsthand.

Deep in the Colombian Amazon, in a region called Guaviare, lies the mountain range called La Lindosa (“Very Pretty” in English). Back in 2017, archaeologists “discovered” (I put that in quotes because the term in this context always amuses me, as most sites are usually well known by the indigenous people of the area) a stretch of cliffs that is 8 miles long and is covered with at least 100,000 gorgeous examples of rock art.

This art includes depictions of birds, plants, humans, and animals. Some species are still around today, but some are prehistoric, such as mastodons, giant sloths, and early horses. All of the work is in red. It displays the talent of many artists, and it is at least 12,000 years old, based on the animals depicted. That’s all the more amazing because we know that humans didn’t reach South America until between 15,000 and 25,000 years ago.

This 8 mile stretch of paintings is so detailed, and depicts so many stories, that it has been dubbed the Sistine Chapel of the Ancients. It shows hunting, farming, masks and rituals, as well as geometric symbols. It even shows people standing atop platforms, which is probably what the artists had to do to create the art that is highest up on the cliffs. This is evidence of a sophisticated culture.

I would dearly love to see this art firsthand, but I know it’s never going to happen. First of all, to get there, you not only have to get the permission of the government, but you also have to get permission from the FARC dissidents, or you may never be seen again. After that, you must drive to the nearest village, and then hike for 5 hours. And the hike includes a fair amount of rock climbing as well. So, yeah, never going to happen.

The archeologists are taking 3D imagery of all the art, but I don’t know if the general public will ever be allowed access to it. I hope so. My lazy Google search yielded nothing to date.

By looking at the plants depicted, it was confirmed that when these artists lived here, the Amazon looked nothing like it does today. It was actually composed at the time of forest and open savanna. I bet the artwork was much less hidden and overgrown then. How amazing it must have been to gaze on this work and then turn around and see for miles and miles. Perhaps you might see a herd of mastodon in the distance. That really sparks my imagination.

Currently, I’m watching a documentary entitled “Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon” on Youtube. It’s breathtaking in its scope, and is hosted by the archaeologist Ella al-Shamahi. It’s well worth watching from beginning to end, but if you want to see her trek to visit Serrania de la Lindosa to gaze upon this work, skip to around minute 45. It shows you 15 minutes of jaw dropping rock art. Enjoy!

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Developmental Greed

If developers had their way, much history would be lost to us.

I’m very grateful that most cities now have rules in place that require developers to have archeologists examine their land, especially in historically sensitive areas, before they’re allowed to build upon it. Most builders, of course, consider this a massive nuisance, and a waste of their time and money. But if these requirements didn’t exist, a lot of history would be lost to us, and we would miss out on opportunities to discover more about who we are and where we came from.

Those of you who think government already meddles too much in our business need to think again in this instance. Laws, rules, regulations, none of these things would be necessary if we could all be counted upon to do the right thing. Unfortunately, greed seems to be the primary motivator for most people.

Here’s a prime example: The Miami Circle. Once upon a time, a developer planned to put a high rise on some very well-placed real estate in downtown Miami, which he had purchased for 8.5 million dollars. Unfortunately for him, some archeologists discovered what Wikipedia describes as “the only known evidence of a prehistoric permanent structure cut into the bedrock in the Eastern United States”

Much time and political wrangling occurred while everyone tried to figure out what to do about this situation. Needless to say, the developer was not pleased. And he was no doubt losing quite a bit of money while everyone was spinning their wheels.

Finally, the State of Florida decided to buy the land back from him. I agree that he deserved to be made whole. No doubt about it. And that would probably mean giving him more than 8.5 million, considering all the wasted time. But the guy asked the state for 50 million. Because he could.

I have no respect for this guy. I mean, yeah. I could see where he might want 15 million. But 50? Come on, dude. You’re holding the Florida taxpayers for ransom.

The state finally gave him 26.7 million for the site. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places. We are still learning more about the Tequesta Indians, who were the original developers of this site. The wood found there may be 2000 years old. You can watch an interesting documentary about the site on Youtube here.

We would never had the chance to learn all the fascinating things we’ve learned from this discovery if one greedy developer had been allowed to have his selfish way.

The Miami Circle

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Darkness Revealed

When I drive to work at night it’s a completely different experience than when I work a day shift. Even the nuclear power plant, normally a blight upon the landscape, looks beautiful. It is all lit up and floating in a sea of blackness like a nighttime cruise heading for the Bahamas.

The traffic flow is different as well. There’s less of it, and although it seems like a more lawless group of drivers, and definitely a more alcohol-soaked one, it feels safer. This is a dangerous illusion that requires one to be on the alert.

Criminals rule the night, or at least that is what Hollywood would have us believe. So there’s also this underlying sense of excitement and danger. Most people who are out at night are there either because they have no choice or they like the thrill and the atmosphere or they don’t have the sense to be vigilant. Or they are predators who are up to no good. And since these people can’t be told apart, you have to assume the worst.

What I like about the dark hours is the sense of isolation. Even though there are still the same number of humans on the planet, somehow at night you can often feel as if you have it all to yourself. What a luxury. I look up at the sky and revel in the quiet and imagine that all those stars are a part of me. We are star stuff, after all. I seem to breathe easier at night. I feel embraced by it. I’m where I’m supposed to be.

It takes a certain amount of faith to feel safe at night. You are, after all, being deprived of one of your senses. Anything could be in the darkness. Anything at all. You can’t really be sure. There’s so much out there that you can’t see. Everything is hidden from you, and there’s quite a lot of it.

Indeed, that feeling of abundance can overtake our senses. At night we become more. More romantic, more fearful, more uninhibited, more exuberant, or more lonely and depressed. People hate to be alone on a Friday night. You never hear them complain about being alone on a Friday afternoon.

The nighttime feels like an grand entity that the daytime can never even hope to become. It takes a special effort to overcome that prehistoric desire to hide, to hibernate, to wait out the darkness. But if you make the effort, you often reap rare and sensual rewards.