The largest Native American rock art dating back 1,000 years is discovered

The largest Native American rock art, dating back 1,000 years, was discovered with the help of 3D scans.

Archaeologists say the massive drawings could represent spirits of the underworld, with one depicting a rattlesnake extending over 3 meters in length.

They made their discovery in the nineteenth unnamed cave in Alabama, which was first found in 1998 but its location has been kept secret to keep it safe.

University of Tennessee Professor Jan F. Simek and a team of researchers made the discovery as they worked to better document the cave.

‘We knew the cave contained pre-contact Native American mud glyphs and were carrying out a 3D photogrammetric documentation project to help with management and conservation,’ said Professor Simek.

Photogrammetry is a process where thousands of photos are taken which can be used to build a 3D model.

Evil Spirits: The largest known Native American rock art, dating back 1,000 years, was discovered with the help of 3D scans.  Archaeologists say the drawings may represent spirits of the underworld, with one depicting a rattlesnake (pictured)

Evil Spirits: The largest known Native American rock art, dating back 1,000 years, was discovered with the help of 3D scans. Archaeologists say the drawings may represent spirits of the underworld, with one depicting a rattlesnake (pictured)

The discovery was made in the unnamed 19th cave in Alabama, which was found in 1998 but its location has been kept secret.

The discovery was made in the unnamed 19th cave in Alabama, which was found in 1998 but its location has been kept secret.

University of Tennessee Professor Jan F. Simek and a team of researchers made this discovery as they worked to better document the cave.  Photogrammetry is a process where thousands of photos are taken which can be used to build a 3D model

University of Tennessee Professor Jan F. Simek and a team of researchers made this discovery as they worked to better document the cave. Photogrammetry is a process where thousands of photos are taken which can be used to build a 3D model

This not only provides an accurate record of the site, but can also help document the art by allowing researchers to view images from new angles.

This technique is especially important in the unnamed nineteenth cave because the low ceilings make it difficult to view images.

While using the 3D model to get a broad view of the ceiling deep in the cave, past where it reaches sunlight, the team spotted five previously unknown giant glyphs.

‘The very large rock art images cannot be seen in person in the cave due to the limited spaces in the site,’ said Professor Simek.

They included anthropomorphic figures in elaborate insignia and a snake.

The latter appears to be a diamondback rattlesnake, the largest rattlesnake in the Americas and an animal sacred to the natives of the Southeast.

Photogrammetry not only provides an accurate record of the site, but can also help document the art by allowing researchers to view images from new angles.

Photogrammetry not only provides an accurate record of the site, but can also help document the art by allowing researchers to view images from new angles.

Images of rock art include anthropomorphic figures in elaborate insignia and a snake

Images of rock art include anthropomorphic figures in elaborate insignia and a snake

While using the 3D model to get a broad view of the ceiling deep into the cave, past where it reaches sunlight, the team spotted five previously unknown giant glyphs.

While using the 3D model to get a broad view of the ceiling deep into the cave, past where it reaches sunlight, the team spotted five previously unknown giant glyphs.

The team also performed radiocarbon dating of the cave and found that it is a pre-contact site over 1,000 years old that was visited during the first millennium AD.

This was a time when agriculture and long-term settlement began to replace the foragers’ lifestyle in the region.

These ancient Native Americans were modifying their landscape on a large scale, often incorporating religious and spiritual beliefs.

In the southeast, large mounds were built to ascend to the spirits of the upper world.

Caves were also sacred spaces seen as the opposite of mounds: broken into the underworld.

The team also performed radiocarbon dating of the cave and found that it is a pre-contact site over 1,000 years old that was visited during the first millennium AD.

The team also performed radiocarbon dating of the cave and found that it is a pre-contact site over 1,000 years old that was visited during the first millennium AD.

Caves were also sacred spaces seen as the opposite of mounds: paths to the underworld

Caves were also sacred spaces seen as the opposite of mounds: paths to the underworld

The unnamed nineteenth cave is a well-researched site, yet these images had been lost

The unnamed nineteenth cave is a well-researched site, yet these images had been lost

The team hopes that applying photogrammetry to other sites could lead to further discoveries, which could revolutionize our understanding of ancient Native American rock art.

The team hopes that applying photogrammetry to other sites could lead to further discoveries, which could revolutionize our understanding of ancient Native American rock art.

As such, the team thinks the newly identified glyphs could represent the spirits of the underworld.

They also think they might just scratch the surface of these finds.

The unnamed nineteenth cave is a well-researched site, yet these images had been lost.

The team hopes that applying photogrammetry to other sites could lead to further discoveries, which could revolutionize our understanding of ancient Native American rock art.

‘These images are different from most ancient art so far observed in the American Southeast and suggest that our understanding of that art may be based on incomplete data,’ said Professor Simek.

The research was published in the journal ancient.

The nineteenth unnamed cave in Alabama is a well-researched site, but these images had been lost

The nineteenth unnamed cave in Alabama is a well-researched site, but these images had been lost

CAVE ART: 40,000 YEAR OLD WORKS HAVE BEEN FOUND

The most famous rock art is found in Spain and France, but exists all over the world.

The famous rock art of the Upper Paleolithic of Europe dates back to about 21,000 years ago.

In recent years, scholars have recorded rock art found in Indonesia which is believed to be around 40,000 years old, predating the more popular European rock art.

Hand stencil found in the El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain

Expert Shigeru Miyagawa wrote a study in 2018 that examined rock art to try to shed light on the evolution of human language.

He said: ‘Rock art is everywhere. Every large continent inhabited by homo sapiens has rock art.

“You find it in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, everywhere, just like human language.”

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