A remote region of Brazil’s northeastern countryside offers clues to how mankind arrived in the Americas. Archeologists doing research there since the 1970s say there’s vast evidence the first peoples came to South America much earlier than previously thought. The evidence coming from art left on rocks and caves.
CGTN’s Paulo Cabral has more.
On the cliffs, caves, and stone walls of the Serra da Capivara in Brazil’s hot and dry northeastern countryside, there are signs of an ancient human presence, that challenge established theories how mankind reached the Americas.
These drawings, depicting prehistoric times the region’s fauna and scenes of daily life among its ancient inhabitants, like one usually described as ‘the kiss.’
The artifacts found here are among the oldest in the Americas. This stone tool, dated to be 30,000 years old, kept in the park’s museum is an example. Research here began in the late 1970s when archeologist Niede Guidon, now 86 years old and still working in the region, first heard from locals about the paintings.
Her discoveries supported the theory, and then much discredited, that mankind arrived in South America before reaching North America and thousands of years earlier than previously thought.
“The excavations here have shown that mankind arrived here about 30, 000 years ago. And they stayed because at the time this was a very favorable region, with plenty of water,” said Guidon. “But when we published the first results of our research, with the dates of the artifacts from the Holed Stone site, some American scientists said it was impossible because man certainly had first come to the Americas 17,000 years ago.”
Every year a French government-sponsored team comes to Serra da Capivara for a few months to continue digging.
The sites are now covered again for protection as this years’ excavations have been completed. Archeologists logging the artifacts collected say their latest finds date back even further.
And it’s not only scientists coming. About 20,000 tourists come to the park each year to see the landscapes, paintings and the two museums set up here. This supports much-needed businesses and jobs in the region.
The archeological discoveries in the Serra da Capivara and the creation of a National Park gave a much-needed boost in the economy of this impoverished region.
And it’s not only about the tourists that have been coming. Another good example is pottery that ships countrywide. Their products are decorated with handmade reproductions of the paintings found on the rock.
“We sell a lot to the tourists that come to visit us but nowadays more than half of our products are shipped to other states, to retailers that sell our products,” said Antonio Marcos, the manager at Ceramica Serra da Capivara.
Researchers say the Serra da Capivara holds many more secrets to the past worth their efforts to unlock while increasing public interest in this site can only help create a better future for the people who live in the region.