12,000-year-old human graffiti on the walls of a cave in Montalvânia, northern Minas Gerais

Lagoa Santa in Central Brazil is the only site in the entire American continent where bodies of the earliest modern humans have been found.Luzia, found in Lagoa Santa, Brazil in 1830

The bodies date back to the earliest days of the Holocene period,
which began about 12,000 years ago with a global rise in sea-levels of about 60m.

The most famous body is that of Luiza, a young woman perfectly-preserved from the day she passed away in a cave and looking very much like a modern human.

Graffiti by early humans of the Holocene period in Minas Gerais, Brazil

The Holocene period encapsulates the period of the “modern human”, and continues with us up to this day. It’s incredible these early humans, who will have crossed into the continent from Russia, have been found only once across the entire continent, and all the way south in the cave systems of central Brazil.

In a tiny town in northern Minas Gerais called Montalvânia their early cave-paintings have also been found.

Graffiti by early humans of the Holocene period in Minas Gerais, Brazil

A lot of it is stick-men, including the man in the image above who has five sets of arms. A few of the drawings look like rocket-ships and planes, which sets the imagination alight about what was going through these early human’s minds.

Graffiti by early humans of the Holocene period in Minas Gerais, BrazilThe cave-drawings can be seen in Belo Horizonte’s Espaco do Conhecimento and the caves of the American continent’s earliest humans can be explored in Lagoa Santa.

Beware, though: the cave is full of spiders. Two of them are the “deadliest spiders in Brazil”, according to the tour guide. As he was describing the spiders he pointed to my foot and said: “There’s one.” Brazil’s deadliest spider was on my flip-flop!

I kicked it off and we moved along.

Well worth a visit!


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