Drought in Amazon reveals rocks with ancient human faces

The record drought in Brazil has caused the Amazon River to drop to its lowest point in over a century, causing declines in crops and increased water insecurity for the people of the region. In just the last few months, the Rio Negro, one of the largest tributaries, has dropped nearly 50 feet, revealing patches of rock and land that haven't been exposed for ages—including locations where Indigenous people sharpened their tools, arrows, and spears, and engraved symbols before Europeans colonized the region. Along with other markings, they left behind "graffiti" of human faces.

"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 de Santana Oliveira told Reuters.

Small boats stranded in the nearly dry bed of the Tapajos river in Alter do Chao, Santarem, Brazil, during the amazonian drought in the second half of 2023 (Tarcisio Schnaider/Shutterstock)