scorecardA drought in the Amazon uncovered ancient, eerie face carvings that look like emojis
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A drought in the Amazon uncovered ancient, eerie face carvings that look like emojis

Marianne Guenot   

A drought in the Amazon uncovered ancient, eerie face carvings that look like emojis
LifeScience2 min read
  • A drought in an Amazon river has revealed prehistoric carvings reminiscent of modern emojis.
  • The carvings represent faces smiling or scowling.

A drought in the Amazon has revealed prehistoric carvings of faces that show a variety of expressions, from smiling to scowling, just like today's emojis.

The faces, seen on several rocks in Manaus, Brazil, are thought to have been submerged by a river for up to 2,000 years.

It's not clear who would have made these engravings, but scientists think they are linked to indigenous cultures who lived in the area in pre-Columbian times.

"The engravings are prehistoric, or precolonial. We cannot date them exactly, but based on evidence of human occupation of the area, we believe they are about 1,000 to 2,000 years old," archaeologist Jaime Oliveira of the Brazilian Institute of Historical Heritage, told Reuters Monday.

"The site expresses emotions, feelings, it is an engraved rock record, but it has something in common with current works of art," said Oliveira, per Agence France Presse (AFP).

Rock carvings had been spotted before at the site, notably during another drought in 2010. One area at the site appeared to show grooves in the rock used by indigenous populations to sharpen their spear, per Reuters.

But archaeologists had never before spotted the mysterious faces, Oliveira told Reuters Monday.

The engravings are an "inestimable" find when it comes to understanding these prehistoric populations, Beatriz Carneiro, historian and member of Iphan, Praia das Lajes, told AFP.

"Unhappily it is now reappearing with the worsening of the drought," Carneiro said.

The drought could also threaten the conservation of the Lajes site, per Carneiro, AFP reported.

The river Negro dropped by about 49.2 feet since July, according to Reuters. The river recorded its lowest flow in 121 years last week, AFP reported. Amazon rivers are crucial waterways in the area, and the drought has caused issues with supplies and transportation, the report added.

"We come, we look at (the engravings) and we think they are beautiful. But at the same time, it is worrying... I also think about whether this river will exist in 50 or 100 years," Ribeiro said.




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