Hikers out for a stroll on the Caribbean island of Montserrat have discovered ancient stone carvings that archaeologists believe could offer valuable insight into the island's pre-colonial history.
The petroglyphs - which appear to depict geometric designs as well as beings of some kind - were carved into the side of a mossy boulder in the densely forested hills in the island's north.
Petroglyphs left behind by the Caribbean's indigenous peoples have been found throughout the region but until now had never been seen on Montserrat or nearby Antigua.
The petroglyphs were found in densely forested hills in the island's north.
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The petroglyphs were found in densely forested hills in the island's north. Photograph: Montserrat National Trust
Locals stumbled across the carvings while hiking through the island's densely forested hills in January, but officials delayed announcing the discovery until the petroglyphs' authenticity could be confirmed by researchers.
"We have Amerindian artifacts on the island, but had not seen petroglyphs," said Sarita Francis, director of the Montserrat National Trust. "These are the first, that we know of, that have been found here."
Initial analysis suggests Montserrat's petroglyphs are between 1,000 and 1,500 years old, Francis said, though carbon dating will paint a clearer picture of the images' origins.
On social media, Montserratians commented on the petroglyphs' similarities to those that have been found on St Kitts, another nearby island. Mentore said that indigenous Arawak petroglyphs and other evidence of pre-Columbian settlement have been as far north as Cuba, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.