London, June 3 (IANS) Hikers out for a stroll on the Caribbean island of Montserrat found 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, the Guardian reported on Friday.
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.
"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 suggested 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, Montserrat locals commented on the petroglyphs' similarities to those that have been found on St Kitts, another nearby island.
Archaeological evidence suggests that ancient peoples first lived on Montserrat -- a British Overseas Territory -- between 2,500 and 4,000 years ago.
Arawak-speaking groups later inhabited the island, but are believed to have vacated it by the late 1,400s following raids by another indigenous group, the Caribs.