Archaeologists Discover Nearly 5000 Cave Paintings In Mexico

Mexican Cave Paintings could be more than 40,000 years old
Mexican National Institute of Anthropology

Archaeologists have made a startling discovery in a remote region of Mexico that could have an impact on what we’ve previously known about early inhabitants in North America. While exploring numerous sites in the northeastern region of Burgos, researchers have come across nearly 5000 cave paintings, which would be a remarkable find at any time. But these paintings seem to pre-date any kind of settlement by Hispanic people in the region, possibly revealing the presence of previously unknown inhabitants in the San Carlos mountain range.

All told, there are 4926 paintings spread out across 11 different archaeological sites. Of those, 1550 are found in a single location whose walls are extremely covered in the artwork. Using simple red, yellow, black and white paints, the artists left behind primitive images of humans, animals, insects and other abstract items in a place that was not previously believed to have been inhabited by any type of organized cultures. The paintings suggest that as many as three groups may have lived in the region, however, which adds yet another layer to the mystery.

At the moment, there is little known about the ancient cultures that made these paintings. The scenes splayed out on the walls indicate that it was a nomadic tribe of hunters and gatherers who used rudimentary tools to aid in their work. No such tools have been found at any of the sites, however, leaving researchers to speculate about the level of sophistication the tribes possessed. Scientists hope to chemically analyze the paint used in the art to determine its age, but at the moment they estimate that the cave paintings were done some 40,000 years ago. If that is accurate, it would put them amongst the oldest known artwork in history.