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Venezuelan rock art mapped with unprecedented details – HeritageDaily

The rock engravings located in western Venezuela, including some of the largest in the world, have been mapped with unprecedented detail by UCL researchers.

Engravings (petroglyphs), some of which are considered up to 2,000 years old, include representations of animals, humans and cultural rituals. One panel is 304 m² and contains at least 93 individual prints, the largest of which measures several meters. Another engraving of a horned snake measures more than 30 meters in length.

All the rock art studied is in the area of ​​Atures Rapids (Raudales de Atures) of the state of Amazonas in Venezuela, historically reported as the home of the indigenous Jesuit priests. Eight groups of rock art recorded on five islands within the Rapids were recorded.

Drone technology was used to photograph the engravings, some of which are in very inaccessible areas. Historically, low levels of water in the Orinoco River at the time the research was conducted also meant that more prints were exposed.

The article's author, Dr. Philip Riris (UCL Institute of Archeology) said: "The Rapids are an ethnic, linguistic and cultural convergence zone, the reasons documented here show similarities with many other sites of rock art in The locality, as well as in Brazil, Colombia and other more distant places, is one of the first in-depth studies that show the scope and depth of cultural connections with other areas of northern South America in the pre-Columbian and colonial times.

"While painted rock art is associated primarily with remote burial sites, these engravings are embedded in day-to-day life: how people lived and traveled in the region, the importance of aquatic resources, and the increase and rhythmic and seasonal fall of water. The size of some of the individual prints is quite extraordinary. "

Pre-Columbian art has a long history of study by naturalists and scientists who travel the Orinoco, such as Alexander von Humboldt, and has been the subject of archaeological research in the region for more than half a century.

Rock engravings of the Middle Orinoco River have been studied before, but never at this level of detail, therefore, the research offers the opportunity of new knowledge about the archaeological and ethnographic context of the engravings.

Almost all the engravings found in the Rapids they are flooded and exposed to varying degrees by the levels of water that rise and fall seasonally in the Orinoco.According to fluctuating upstream rainfall, the relative height of the river also varies annually up to several meters during the extremes of both seasons.

] In a studied panel, a motif of a flutist surrounded by other human figures probably represents part of an indigenous rite No renovation. The performances coincided with the seasonal appearance of the river prints just before the start of the wet season, when the islands are more accessible and the harvest would take place.

The research is part of the Cotúa-Orinoco Island Reflexive Archeology Project, funded by Leverhulme Trust.

The principal investigator, Dr. José Oliver (Institute of Archeology of UCL), said: "Our project focuses on the archeology of the island of Cotúa and its vicinity of Atures Rapids. The available archaeological evidence suggests that the merchants of several distant regions interacted in this area in the course of two millennia before the European colonization.The objective of the project is to better understand these interactions "

" Mapping the rock engravings represents an important step towards a better understanding of the role of the Orinoco River in mediating the formation of pre-conquest social networks throughout northern South America. "


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