Rock art discovered in Western Venezuela features what are thought to be some of the largest engravings in the world, according to research published Wednesday in Cambridge University Press. The rocks are reportedly around 2,000 years old and boast engravings of animals, humans and ancient rituals. 

Pre-Columbian art has long been a subject of study by scientists and naturalists that travel along the Orinoco River, but it has also proven to be an interest of research among archeologists. Researchers from the University College London's Institute of Archaeology (UCL) mapped their discovery in unprecedented detail. The research team said it hoped the engravings, formally known as petroglyphs, would help to provide a better understanding of its archaeological and ethnographic context. 

"The Rapids are an ethnic, linguistic and cultural convergence zone," Dr. Philip Riris, the study's lead author, said in a news release Thursday. "The motifs documented here display similarities to several other rock art sites in the locality, as well as in Brazil, Colombia, and much further afield."

"This is one of the first in-depth studies to show the extent and depth of cultural connections to other areas of northern South America in pre-Columbian and Colonial times," Riris continued. 

Drone technology was used to capture aerial images of the rocks, some of which were positioned in inaccessible spots. One of the panels, which was 304 meters in length, possessed at least 93 individual petroglyphs. This was the largest discovery made by the research team. A second rock featured an engraving of a horned snake, which measured out to be 30 meters.   

Eight groups of rocks that boasted engravings were collected by the UCL researchers on five islands within the Átures Rapids. 

"While painted rock art is mainly associated with remote funerary sites, these engravings are embedded in the every day — how people lived and traveled in the region, the importance of aquatic resources and the seasonal rhythmic rising and falling of the water," Riris added.  "The size of some of the individual engravings is quite extraordinary."

Rock engravings obtained from the Orinoco River have been studied before, but never with this level of detail. Therefore, the researcher's in-depth investigation prove to be a great step towards gaining a better understanding of its overall meaning. 

"Mapping the rock engravings represents a major step towards an enhanced understanding of the role of the Orinoco River in mediating the formation of pre-Conquest social networks throughout northern South America," Dr. José Oliver, principal investigator, said in a news release

Venezuela Rock Art Researchers found rocks in Venezuela around 2,000 years old that featured a variety of engravings, pictured December 6, 2017. Photo: Twitter