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Valcamonica Symposium 2021

The CCSP-Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici is organising the Valcamonica Symposium from 28 to 31 October 2021 at the Auditorium Cittadella Cultura, Capo di Ponte – Valcamonica (Italy). Deadline for submitting proposals of papers and posters is April 6, 2021. The VCS will take place in person or online through an IT platform.
Il Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici organizza il Valcamonica Symposium dal 28 al 31 October 2021 presso l’Auditorium Cittadella Cultura, a Capo di Ponte (BS). Il termine per la presentazione di proposte di contributi e posters è fissato al 6 aprile 2021. Il Symposium si terrà in presenza o via web.

by CCSP Read more

The Enigma of the “Feathered Homunculus”, Peru

Rock art images often include unexpected and enigmatic elements. This study investigates the petroglyphs of especially anthropomorphic figures in the Majes Valley of southern Peru that have an unanticipated feather-element; a long groove (sometimes slightly curved) with a row of parallel but shorter grooves attached to one side only. This study will describe the petroglyphs of the several types of biomorphs featuring a feather-element, focussing however on the “Feathered Homunculus”, as well as their surprisingly limited distribution.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Cervidi in Valcamonica e nelle Alpi

Cervids Valcamonica

Cervidi in Valcamonica e nelle Alpi, diversi approcci per una storia millenaria

giornata di studi giovedì 28 gennaio 2021 dalle ore 10

YouTube Footsteps of Man/Le Orme dell’Uomo https://bit.ly/3nLuV1M

Cervids in Valcamonica and in the Alps, different approaches to a millenary history

conference day Thursday 28 January 2021 from 10 am

YouTube Footsteps of Man-Le Orme dell’Uomo https://bit.ly/3nLuV1M

di Cer.Val Read more

Progetto Cer.Val. – Cervidi della Valcamonica

NAQ1, sett. i

Uno dei temi peculiari dell’arte rupestre della Valcamonica è senza dubbio quello dei cervi. Le due più antiche raffigurazioni di cervo risalgono alla fine del Pleistocene, mentre sono frequenti quelle presenti sulle stele dell’età del Rame, e ancora di più quelle relative all’età del Ferro. Il progetto Cer.Val., sostenuto dal Gruppo Terre Alte del CAI (Club Alpino Italiano), vuole affrontare questo percorso di ricerca, privilegiando la multidisciplinarietà, l’incontro tra specialisti di diversi campi, il rapporto con i cambiamenti climatico-ambientali, l’analisi del simbolo del cervo nel patrimonio culturale locale.

di Dario SIGARI Read more

New “Carcancha” Petroglyphs in Arequipa, Peru

This paper presents the description of two new sites in Majes, Peru, both featuring an example of a skeleton-like petroglyph that may spiritually be linked with the Sacred Mountain of Coropuna. The documentation of those two new sites thus reveals new information about the symbolic spatial organization and ritual functions of the “Death Valley of the Andes”. It is especially hypothesized here that the specific setting of those two new sites may indicate a physical “Road to Coropuna”.

 By Maarten van Hoek Read more

Filippo Gambari, archeologia e arte rupestre

Filippo Maria Gambari

Giovedì 19 novembre 2020 Filippo Maria Gambari, archeologo preistorico, direttore del Museo delle Civiltà di Roma,  ha lasciato questo mondo. Nel corso della sua vita di studioso ha approfondito vari aspetti della scienza archeologica: sono molti i luoghi e i temi della preistoria alpina (e non solo) che grazie alla sua progettualità e al suo impulso sono stati affrontati con grande attenzione. Tra questi, il tema dell’arte rupestre ha assunto un ruolo non certo di secondo piano. E’ doveroso ricordare lo studioso in queste pagine, che proprio all’arte rupestre sono dedicate.

AA-DD-AEF-PL Read more

False Information Concerning Majes Rock Art, Peru

Scientific publications should always be reliable. The content may never be incorrect or misleading. This also goes for publications regarding rock art, whether by amateurs or by academics. This short paper deals with two photographs of petroglyphs from the Majes Valley, southern Peru, and the conclusions based upon those illustrations published by two academics from the USA. Regrettably, both the photos and the conclusions are unambiguously incorrect.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Les cavaliers dans l’art rupestre. Le cas du Maroc

Foum Chenna, Maroc

Dans tous les pays du Maghreb et du Sahara, en plein air ou sous abri, on peut rencontrer une petite figure, gravée ou peinte, connue dans la littérature spécialisée ou de divulgation sous l’appellation de cavalier “libyco-berbère”. Puisque cette image est très répandue, il semble qu’elle n’ait pas de secret et que du cavalier tout soit connu : son armement, le harnais de sa monture, jusqu’à son rôle dans la société de l’époque. Rien de plus faux. Au Maroc, nous pouvons observer combien le monde des cavaliers était diversifié en visitant les deux gisements principaux : le site de Foum Chenna dans la vallée du Draa (Maroc méridional) et le plateau aux pieds du Jebel Rat, dans le Haut Atlas central, le premier abritant 2550 gravures, le deuxième 1800 dont 800 appartiennent à la phase des cavaliers (pdf disponible).
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par Alessandra BRAVIN Read more

Valcamonica, visit the Great Rock !

NAQ1 virtual tour door

October 9, 2020: on the occasion of the European Day of Rock Art it is a real pleasure to invite enthusiasts and scholars to visit the Great Rock of Naquane in Valcamonica and to surf over it. Just find the door, open it with a click, and enter the virtual tour. The Great Rock is the most richly engraved of the Park. You can move along the wooden walkways just as if you were doing a real visit: you can closely observe the surface, discover every detail, navigate by moving like a bird’s eye, approaching and moving away at will. So, feel comfortable in your home, and start your virtual journey inside Naquane and Valcamonica rock art (PDF available).

by Andrea ARCÀ Read more

Valcamonica, visita la Grande Roccia !

NAQ1, la porta del tour virtuale

In occasione del 9 ottobre, Giornata Europea dell’Arte Rupestre, è un vero piacere invitare gli appassionati e gli studiosi di arte rupestre a visitare la Grande Roccia di Naquane e a navigare lungo la sua superficie incisa. Basta trovare la porticina, aprirla con un click ed immergersi nel tour virtuale. La Grande Roccia è la più riccamente istoriata di tutto il Parco di Naquane. Puoi muoverti lungo le passerelle di legno come se tu la stessi visitando dal vivo, osservare da vicino le scene e le figure preistoriche, scoprire ogni dettaglio, navigare tra i settori incisi muovendoti a volo d’uccello, avvicinandoti e allontanandoti a volontà. E dunque, stai comodo a casa tua e inizia il tuo viaggio a Naquane, immergendoti nell’arte rupestre della Valcamonica (PDF disponibile).

di Andrea ARCÀ Read more

Naquane, Valcamonica, the Great Rock

NAQ1 deer figure

(October 9, 2020, European Day of Rock Art). With its 104 engraved rocks, the National Rock Art Park of Naquane is the main archaeological site of Valcamonica and one of the most important European rock art sites. The best-known rock is the n. 1, called the Great Rock for its size; more than two thousand figures have been engraved over its surface: deer hunting scenes, acrobatic riders, sword duels, women with hands up, wooden barns, ducks, geese and chickens, the mysterious palettes … a virtual tour allow to discover it, to enjoy the panorama, to fly over its engraved figures looking at ultra high-res pictures, tracings and 3D models (PDF available).

by Andrea ARCÀ Read more

Naquane, Valcamonica, la Grande Roccia

NAQ1, settore P

(9 ottobre 2020, Giornata Europea dell’Arte Rupestre). Con le sue 104 rocce incise, il Parco Nazionale delle Incisioni Rupestri di Naquane costituisce il principale sito archeologico della Valcamonica e uno dei più importanti complessi europei di arte rupestre. La roccia più conosciuta è la n. 1, nota anche come Grande Roccia per le sue dimensioni; sulla sua superficie sono state incise più di 2mila figure: scene di caccia al cervo, di cavalcatura acrobatica, duelli alla spada, donne a braccia levate, granai di legno, oche, papere e galline, le misteriose palette …  un tour virtuale permette di scoprirla, di godere della vista del panorama, di sorvolare le sue figure incise osservando  riprese fotografiche, rilievi iconografici e modelli 3D ad altissima risoluzione (PDF disponibile).

di Andrea ARCÀ Read more

L’arte rupestre della Valcamonica in 20 minuti

Valcamonica 20 minutes

Il progetto L’arte rupestre della Valcamonica in 20 minuti, ideato e organizzato da Le Orme dell’Uomo (Cerveno, Valcamonica), intende presentare in modo facile e descrittivo l’arte rupestre della Valcamonica attraverso una serie di video di semplici lezioni, conferenze e attività didattiche, della durata di circa 20 minuti ciascuna, tenute online da esperti archeologi, studiosi del settore e insegnanti. I video si articolano in tre differenti settori: cronologia (lezioni e conferenze sulle varie fasi dell’arte rupestre della Valcamonica), temi e visite virtuali (quali la rosa camuna, le impronte di piede, i telai, le palette, le rocce e i siti di maggiore interesse), didattica (con una sezione dedicata).

di Angelo Eugenio FOSSATI, Marisa D. GIORGI Read more

Valcamonica rock art in 20 minutes

Valcamonica 20 minutes

The project  Valcamonica Rock Art in 20 minutes, conceived and organized by Footsteps of Man (Cerveno, Valcamonica), intends to present the rock art of Valcamonica in an easy and descriptive way through simple lessons, conferences, and didactic activities lasting about 20 minutes, each held online by expert archaeologists, scholars in the field, and teachers. The videos are divided into three different sectors: chronology (lectures-lessons on the various periods of the rock art of Valcamonica), themes, and virtual visits (such as Camunnian roses, footprints, looms, palettes, or the most important engraved rocks), education (with a special section).

by Angelo Eugenio FOSSATI, Marisa D. GIORGI Read more

Defecating Elephants in Messak Rock Art – An Anomaly?

In this paper I discuss the graphical displays of a natural bodily function that is, although – from top to bottom – normal in the natural world, very rare in rock art. It concerns images of defecating elephants, which – enigmatically – occur well above average in the Messak-Tadrart region of the Central Sahara. It will be attempted to explain this anomaly (PDF available).

By Maarten van Hoek

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Enfrentando los dibujos… ¡otra vez! (Perú)

With great interest I have watched the YouTube Video called: Charla Rupestre: Los Petroglifos de Chillihuay. Arequipa, Perú by Maritza Rodríguez Cerrón and Daniel Chumpitaz Llerena (21 August 2020), two leading Peruvian archaeologists who have intensively surveyed the important rock art site of Chillihuay in southern Peru. However, a couple of those drawings in their 2014-paper drew my attention, as they proved to be incorrect  (PDF available).

by Maarten van Hoek – rockart @home.nl Read more

The Three Rivers 3D Masks

In several cases rock art manufacturers were intrigued by natural rock features such as holes and cracks. This paper deals mainly with rock art images of masks that are folded across two rock panels creating 3D masks. In particular the Mogollon 3D masks of Three Rivers in New Mexico, USA, will be discussed. Also the puzzling anomaly regarding the distribution of Mogollon 3D masks and Rio Grande Style 3D masks will be dealt with. Finally, it will be attempted to offer an explanation for the enigmatic 3D masks (PDF available).

By Maarten van Hoek

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Valcamonica Rock Art Fieldwork 2020

The Footsteps of Man Archaeological Cooperative Society is based in Valcamonica, an Alpine valley in Northern Italy, where rock art constitutes an archaeological, artistic, ethnographic and historical patrimony of inestimable value (UNESCO World Heritage List). In collaboration with the Catholic University of Brescia, Footsteps of Man organizes its annual Valcamonica Rock Art & Archaeology Field School in Paspardo, one of the principal area where engravings are concentrated. The project participants will learn how
to survey, clean, photograph, draw and catalogue the rock engravings at sites around Paspardo. During the field season, visits to the major rock art parks and museums in Valcamonica will be organized.

by Angelo Eugenio Fossati

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A ‘Unique’ Petroglyph Scene in Southern Morocco

Mating scenes involving mammals of the same species are rather rare in global rock art, but surprisingly fighting scenes are even more extraordinary. This study discusses a specific petroglyph panel in the south of Morocco where – in my opinion uniquely – a fighting and a mating scene was recorded by us in 2019. This panel is analysed and put into a wider context.

By Maarten van Hoek

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The Rock Art of El Vagón – Moche Drainage, Peru

 

Despite increasing interest in inventorying of the rock art in the northern coastal area of Peru, only very little has been published by Peruvian scholars. In fact, several scholars said to publish inventories of – for example, Palamenco in Ancash and even of whole departments such as La Libertad – but nothing happens. This interim inventory about El Vagón (La Libertad) hopes to contribute to the digital safeguarding of important rock art that runs the risk to be vandalised or even destroyed.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Cuevas con arte rupestre Paleolítico en Cantabria

Cantabria posee más de 70 cuevas con arte rupestre
paleolítico, erigiéndose como una de las regiones con mayor
concentración de conjuntos rupestres paleolíticos en Europa.
Su importancia radica en:
– la cantidad de conjuntos,
– la diversidad de técnicas, temática y estilística,
– la concentración de imágenes, antigüedad y continuidad en el tiempo,
– la calidad y excelente estado de conservación.

by Daniel GARRIDO PIMENTEL [i] Read more

The Incomplete Versus The Unfinished

Only the manufacturer of a rock art image could reliably have informed us whether a rock art image is unfinished or whether it is incomplete. Unfortunately informed knowledge is often completely unavailable. Then only the image and its graphical and cultural context are available to possibly separate the unfinished from the incomplete. Additionally, the incomplete image may even include something invisible. To address these issues I will use the rich rock art repertoire of the Desert Andes, focussing mainly on Toro Muerto and Miculla, two enormous rock art sites in the south of Peru.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Calling Cards: a New Plains Rock Art Site Type

Calling Card rock art sites, drawn by war parties in enemy territory to taunt their adversaries by illustrating deeds executed against them, are a newly identified site type on the northern Plains of North America. One such site is Cheval Bonnet, a small petroglyph in Northern Montana. Containing coup counting and horse raiding narratives from the early 1800s, analysis of these images shows that most of the petroglyphs can be identified as Crow drawings, even though they are carved in the heart of Historic Blackfeet tribal territory. Once this site was identified as a calling card petroglyph, I was able to identify three others elsewhere on the northern Plains (PDF available).

by James D. KEYSER Read more

Balma dei Cervi, at the roots of our prehistory

Il territorio di Crodo ospita una delle più importanti pareti con pitture rupestri preistoriche di tutto l’arco alpino. Oltre 100 figure dipinte, di cui trenta umane maschili e femminili, schematiche, a braccia in su e in giù, quasi tutte prive di testa, forse anche con scene di parto. Numerosi gli allineamenti di pallini, spesso abbinati ai personaggi umani. One of the most important rock shelters with prehistoric paintings in the whole of the Alpine Arc is found in the territory of Crodo. Over 100 painted images have been recorded, including 30 schematic male and female human figures, some with upraised arms others facing downwards, almost all of which are without a head, including some possible representations of birth scenes..

by Andrea ARCÀ, Angelo Eugenio FOSSATI Read more

Balma dei Cervi, archaeology and research

Le pitture della Balma dei Cervi, soggette ai danni del tempo e ai rischi di degrado antropico, costituiscono un bene culturale raro, prezioso ed estremamente delicato. Le esigenze di protezione e le notevoli difficoltà di accesso ne sconsigliano la musealizzazione in loco. Il programma di documentazione, valorizzazione e comunicazione è coordinato dalla Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio.. The rock paintings of the Shelter of the Deer are rare, precious an extremely delicate cultural assets. They are endangered by the deterioration of time and by the risks of damage caused by humans. Safeguard requirements and difficulties in access discourage the creation of a Museum in the field. The documentation, valorisation and communication plan is coordinated by the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape.

by Francesco RUBAT BOREL Read more

The Cupules of the Imaoun Complex, Southern Morocco

In the area just south of the Anti-Atlas numerous rock art sites have been recorded. However, there are remarkably few rock art panels with cupules in that area. This study describes a surprisingly high number of cupule panels in the Imaoun area, north of the town of Akka in southern Morocco, which represents a true anomaly in this respect.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Valcamonica fieldwork 2019, again rock art!

Tracing prehistory: from July 18 to August 08 2019 the annual archaeology field school at Paspardo will be open to archaeologists, scholars, students and enthusiasts. We are working on engraved rocks made by prehistoric and protohistoric people during the Neolithic (six thousand years ago), Bronze Age and Iron Age (from four thousand to two thousand years ago).This area gives a great opportunity to learn, survey, photograph, draw and catalogue the rock engravings. The program involves field research, documentation, tracing, guided visits and lectures. Fieldwork is organised by Footsteps of Man, Valcamonica. Infos, poster and photo-galleries here available.

by Angelo Eugenio Fossati

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The Saluting Anthropomorph in the Rock Art of the Americas

Although in general complex biomorphic figures in rock art are not suitable to demonstrate diffusion, there is one idiosyncratic anthropomorphic figure the in rock art repertoire of the Americas, which, although it is very rare, has a remarkably wide distribution that might indicate long-distance diffusion. I have labelled this icon the Saluting Anthropomorph. See the UPDATE at the end of the paper.

 By Maarten van Hoek Read more

Long Distance Diffusion of Rock Art Motifs in the Americas

Rock art motifs are found in every inhabited continent. In most cases those motifs develop independently, but it is also certain that specific rock art motifs migrated from one area to another area, sometimes travelling for thousands of kilometres. This study investigates the possible long-distance diffusion of a number of abstract rock art motifs along the Pacific seaboard of the Americas.

 By Maarten van Hoek Read more

New Pictographs at Guatin – Northern Chile

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New Pictographs at Guatin

Atacama Desert – Northern Chile

By Maarten van Hoek and Mario Giorgetta

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Introduction

In 2013 Mario Giorgetta, an academic botanist from Switzerland, discovered for the first time a small rock panel with a collection of clearly associated pictographs on a rock cliff in the gorge of the Río Vilama. Mario reported the site to me in 2019 and we agreed to publish a paper describing the panel and its context. The site, named Guatin after the nearest village (located 4.5 km to the NE), is located just under 3000 m O.D. and 223 km inland, about 17 km NE of the village of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile. The coordinates in Google Earth (2020) are: 22°47’1.69″S and 68° 6’38.79″W.

This paper comprises two parts. The first part is written by Maarten van Hoek and briefly attempts at interpreting the elements that make up the pictograph scene and the second part is independently written by the discoverer of the pictograph panel at Guatin, Mario Giorgetta.

PART 1

The Guatin Panel and its Possible Meaning

 

By Maarten van Hoek

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Description of the Area

The Río Vilama, that has some water flowing all year round, runs SW towards the Salar de (San Pedro de) Atacama in a rather deep gorge that is flanked by on both sides by a young and hard basaltic lava-flow (some 30.000 years old) from the Sairecabur volcano (about 24 km to the ENE of the Guatin Site and with its summit at 5970 m O.D.). This basalt-flow is on top of and surrounded by the more ancient, 3 million years old lava-ashes of the Llaño Pelón. Sairecabur is visible from (near) the site. About the same distance to the ESE is Licancabur, the Sacred Mountain of the region, but this volcano is invisible when observing the Guatin Panel (it is visible from the pampa). The basalt panel with the pictographs is found at the south bank and faces north across some ancient stone structures at the base of the cliff and across the gorge.

On the more flat and higher part immediately north of the gorge is an area with clearly visible camelid tracks running to the NE, also leading towards a point – about 650 m upstream – where the gorge could be crossed. At that point – but on the south side – there are some ruins of houses and a large low stone corral. It is possible that the llama-caravans were once observed from very near the rock art panel.

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The Pictographs

The NW facing panel (measuring roughly 40 by 30 cm), located rather high up the cliff, features a group of pictographs that has five elements that most likely are all associated and thus may compose a scene possibly conveying a specific message. All the five elements (Figure 1; see Figure 4 for a photo of the panel) seem to have been painted in the same white-yellowish colour (see however the remarks by Mario Giorgetta in Part 2), although Elements 3 and 4 and especially Element 5 are somewhat faded.

Click on any illustration to see an enlargement

Figure 1: The pictographs of Guatin, northern Chile. Drawing © by Maarten van Hoek, based on a photograph by Mario Giorgetta.

Element 1 comprises a complex, vertically orientated zigzag line with short, often curved appendages emerging from the curves of the central zigzag. From the lower end emerge two irregular meandering lines; the left line probably being unfinished. The top end ends in a roughly triangular yet open, outlined shape with two lines attached. Element 1 is 21.5 cm tall.

Element 2 comprises three rows of altogether 19 rather dynamically depicted anthropomorphic figures that apparently are dancing while holding hands. One figure in the top row is somewhat larger and has four appendages from the head. It seems to be the leader of the dance. It is the only ‘dancer’ with one drooping arm. This ‘leading’ anthropomorph is 7 cm tall; the smaller figures range from 4 to 6 cm in height.

Element 3 is a complex anthropomorphic figure with an outlined head with six appendages; three at each side of the rectangular head. This head is the only outlined element of the whole scene. It seems to have two eyes that may be connected to the sides by short stripes. There is no mouth or nose visible. Importantly, the almost fully frontally depicted figure has outstretched, curved arms and each hand seems to hold a camelid by the neck. The camelids look in opposite directions. The whole composition give the impression of the Andean Staff God. The lower part of Element 3 is somewhat problematic. The two triangular parts of the camelids may be regarded to represent the hind legs of the animal. However, only its right ‘leg’ seems to continue, ending in a human-looking leg plus foot (situated between two ‘dancers’ of the bottom row of ‘dancers’). The foot is shown in twisted perspective. It cannot be decided whether this ‘leg’ is superimposed upon the row of dancers, or that the ‘leg’ is superimposed by the row of dancers. Nonetheless, it is also possible that the anthropomorphic figure has no legs and is actually sitting on the rear ends of the two camelids. The figure measures 17.5 cm from the purported foot to appendages.

Element 4 comprise three small zoomorphic figures very near Element 3 that cannot be identified with certainty. They may represent camelids or dogs (foxes?).

Element 5 is a horizontally painted line that seems to end a curl (the left part is much weathered). It may represent an unfinished pictograph.

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Parallels in Regional Rock Art

First of all it must be emphasised that – despite the fact the images are pictographs – the imagery has more parallels in the petroglyph art of the region: the area between the Salar de Atacama and the rock art site of Ariquilda. Mario Giorgetta suggests that the hard type of stone at the site was possibly the reason for painting the images, instead of carving.

Element 1 may represent a phytomorph and just possibly the meandering lines at its lower end represent its roots or perhaps water. At Tamentica (a major rock art site 230 km to the NNW of Guatin) there are some petroglyphs of phytomorphs that look like Element 1 at Guatin (Figure 2-1). At another major rock art site, Ariquilda (378 km NNW of Guatin), the petroglyph of a similar zigzag line is topped by a human-looking, outlined head with possibly ten short appendages (Figure 2-2). Also at Ariquilda are petroglyphs of similar phytomorphic elements, like on Panel ARQx-231 (Van Hoek 2017: Fig. 2) and Panel ARQx-207 (Van Hoek 2017: Fig. 3). At the petroglyph site of Chuzmisa (360 km NNW of Guatin) is a similar configuration without human or animal traits (Figure 2-3). Much further north and in a completely different cultural context is the petroglyph site of Miculla in southernmost Peru (582 km NNW of Guatin), where one scene involves an archer that seems to lead a row of dancers (the front one blowing a wind instrument), while the row is followed by a plant-like element.

Figure 2: A: Petroglyph at Tamentica, northern Chile; B: Petroglyph at Ariquilda, northern Chile; C: Petroglyph at Chusmiza, northern Chile. Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek, “C” based on a drawing by Paulina Chávez in: Vilches and Cabello (2011: Fig. 3.A-14).

At a rock art site in the upper reaches of the Río Loa (approximately 110 km NNW of Guatin) is a rock panel with the Ayquina Style pictographs of two laterally depicted anthropomorphs that are facing each other, while both are reaching with one arm/hand for a staff-like object. To the right of this scene is a phytomorphic pictograph that has much in common with Element 1 at Guatin. To the left of the scene are two more similar phytomorphs, but much fainter.

Also pictographs in the Cueva Blanca Style often have phytomorphic elements as well as anthropomorphs holding hands. In the Alto Salado area (about 53 km north of Guatin) the pictograph of an anthropomorph is enclosed by phytomorphic elements similar to the one at Guatin, while in the same drainage pictographs of anthropomorphs holding hands have been depicted. Pictographs of the Cueva Blanca Style depicting anthropomorphs holding hands (dancers?) have been recorded at a Río Salado site (approximately 53 km north of Guatin). However, in this case there is no association with a phytomorph.

Conclusion

Element 3 is the figure that truly dominates the scene due to its size and posture. Because of its specific pose and because the figure holds two camelids by the neck with outstretched arms, this figure is looking like the well-known Andean Staff God. It may therefore also be related to the Avian Staff Bearer, a petroglyph of which was once reported at the rock art site of Vilama in the same drainage, some 9 km downstream to the SW (Van Hoek 2016: Fig. 6). Because of the closely packed elements, the whole scene most likely involves some kind of fertility-ritual comprising a group of dancing (?) figures, a plant-like element and a dominating deity holding two camelids. In this way – so it seems – the fertility of plants, animals and of humans has been depicted in one scene.

 

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 PART 2

A Pictograph at Río Vilama

By Mario Giorgetta

San Pedro de Atacama was populated since prehistoric times by the Atacameños who spoke their own language “Kunza”. The settlement lays at 2450 m asl in desertic landscape at northern end of the Atacama-Depression, a geological basin without outlet forming thus the salt flat of Atacama in northern Chile (Figure 3). Formerly hunters, the Atacameños were living on cattle and crops in their extended oasis, supplied by the all year around flowing waters of Río San Pedro and Río Vilama. The long and narrow coastal desert of Atacama acts like a deadly barrier between the Pacific coast and the Andean hinterland to the east.

As San Pedro lays at the eastern edge of the desert it became an important stopover for the caravans crossing between the Pacific coast and the Andean highland or the lowland regions beyond to the east. The ancient trails were used for many centuries until the appearance of the motor-car and countless petroglyphs carved and pecked in canyon-walls and on boulders of volcanic rock are witness to different cultures at different times of the ancient peoples that used those trails.

The surroundings of San Pedro are dominated by wide lava fields, where young lava flows dating from the Pleistocene (20 kya and older) cover older volcanic ashes from the Pliocene (2.6–5.3 mya) when flowing from the Andean volcanoes towards the Atacama Depression. The longest of these young lava flows originates at the crest of the Andean Cordillera at almost 6000 m asl and descends to 2850 m asl, about 500 meters above the salt flat and San Pedro. The lava flows are dissected by deep-cut valleys and narrow gorges, some of them with running water, but none of the water flows permanently reaches the bottom of the Atacama Depression. While the surrounding volcanic ashes are deeply weathered, the lava flows consist of variously broken and fissured hard basaltic rocks.

Figure 3. Map of the area around the Salar de Atacama. 1892 Carta Jeográfica del Desierto i Cordilleras de Atacama.

Carving pictures into rocks of volcanic ashes is easy, as the rock is of soft consistence. Furthermore the carved pictures appear in light grey color of the volcanic ash, while the surrounding surface contrasts in brownish shades by centuries of weathering. Older rock-art generally faces west to the setting sun while the younger sort (e.g. from the Inca era) faces towards the rising sun at the east. Carved or pecked pictures are found exclusively on old volcanic ashes; the young basaltic rock is far too hard for that purpose while rock paintings (pictographs) are very rare around the Atacama Depression.

One of those pictographs was found in a basaltic gorge at 3000 m asl some 17 km northeast of San Pedro, where the Vilama River is breaking through the above-mentioned young lava flow. Nearby are the ruins of some scattered basic stone-houses with corrals. Probably they were used to put out to graze lamas in autumn, when after summer rain-season the surrounding fields cover with fresh plants. On 27 of October 2013 I was looking for cacti vegetation in that canyon and wrote down in my notepad:

Find here a strange, about 35cm small very interesting pictograph or rock painting showing twenty people holding hands and a graphically very sophisticated dignitary with two camelids in artistically high representation. It probably exist several more such images, will look for them occasionally. –

Neither the kind of paint used nor its original color can be established as it disappeared completely. However before painting, the surface of the rock probably was cleaned and the paint later on saved the covered surface from weathering again, resulting in the contrast we see at present. At the eastside of that canyon lays a small flat area with two big prehistoric roundhouses built with double stone-walls in the archaic Atacameños-style. Maybe the twenty people holding hands are reminiscent of feasting and dancing by the tribe at the roundhouses. The graphically brilliant portrait of the big dignitary united with two camelids and protecting further two below his arms may signify protection for the grazing cattle. This is the more obvious, as the last animal to the right with the long, hanging tail is the typical representation of the Andean fox, which in fact is more wolf than fox. There are two species living here: Lycalopex griseus and the bigger Lycalopex culpaeus (Canidae). Both are solitary hunters and particularly “el culpeo” may attack and kill sheep, goats and young lamas. To the left of the composition there is a vertical zigzagging figure whose meaning is not evident (see however Part 1). This figure continued further to the left, but there it was damaged and washed away by flowing rainwater.

Figure 4. The pictographs at Río Vilama. To the left, part of it was washed away by rainwater flowing down. Weathering of the surface of the basaltic rock occurs by temperature changes, hydration, oxidation, UV radiation and being covered with lichens. The original paint disappeared; however it slowed down weathering, thus producing the contrast as seen now (see as well Figure 6).

Among the considerable number of petroglyphs I recorded in this region during my fieldwork along the past forty years, this small pictograph is outstanding not only by the manufacturing technique and the grade of abstraction, but as well by being one of the very few showing people in a social context and not as single individuals. Considering the abstraction as well as human beings as the centre of attraction, I guess its age to be about 500-800 years before present.

Figure 5. Supposed sequence when drawing the composition with the protecting shepherd.

Figure 6. Weathering of surface. Red marked details show lichen growing slowly as well over paint-protected areas leading thus to distortion of the original picture.

Figure 7. Use of paint on an archaic petroglyph in a cave nearby along Paso del Rey (see Figure 3). First a relief was made by carving the contours into the volcanic ash and then the animals were coloured. This scene with naturally depicted running prey (guanacos) decorates a burial site (chullpa) and belongs to the most ancient rock-art in this region

Figure 8. Guardian of a necropolis.

Near to the meeting point of Paso del Rey with the highland-trail (see next paragraph)  lays well hidden among the rocks an extended burial place with several chullpas. The entrance to that necropolis is by a narrow crevice in the rocks, where a group of painted guardians protects and defends the souls of the deceased from bad spirits.

Painted pictures are more frequent at highlands as by the proximity of the volcanoes the consistence of the crystalline basaltic rocks often makes carving impossible. However, the technique of painting carved pictures occurs as well seen (see Figure 7). I took this picture 40 years ago exploring that region by military maps and fixing my positions by triangulation, as GPS at that time wasn’t yet available for civilian users.

This former Bolivian territory was conquered by Chile in the Salpeter War (1879-1884). Thereafter Chilean government mapped the new territory with an amazingly accurate 1892 edited map (detail above) showing all bridle paths and mountain trails along water holes and springs, rivers, animal feed and shelter for the night – important in this desert when people still moved on mules and horses. Supposedly same paths were used during centuries as many petroglyphs, gra­ves, sacred places with votive offerings and shelters with corrals still line those trails. The red marked one joined the pacific coast to the Chaco region. Travelers in 19th century report that in order to cross the mountain-desert starting from Toconao (center of this map) it took seven days on horseback without human trace until reaching Los Molinos in Calchaquí-valleys (Salta, Argentina). Historically most important seems to be the green marked one, called El paso del Rey (the king’s trail) in colonial era and connecting the coast to the north-south running trail all over the highlands of ancient Andean civilizations. Even reliefs related to Tiwanaku-civilization are skirting this ancient trail. It did not enter the oasis of San Pedro but crossed the waters of Río San Pedro ten kilometres north at a site called Cuchabrache instead.

*

References

Van Hoek, M. 2016. The Avian Staff Bearer. Upgrading a Controversial Icon in Atacama Rock Art. In: TRACCE – On-Line Rock Art Bulletin, Italy.

Van Hoek, M. 2017. Petroglifos Únicos en Ariquilda, Chile. In: TRACCE – On-line Rock Art Bulletin, Italy.

Vilches, F. and G. Caballo. 2011. Variaciones sobre un mismo tema: el arte rupestre asociado al complejo Pica-Tarapacá, norte de Chile. Chungará. Revista de Antropología Chilena. Vol. 43-1; pp. 37 – 52. Arica, Chile.

*

Maarten van Hoek – Holland

rockart@home.nlhttps://arte-rupestre3.webnode.nl/bibliography/

 

Mario Giorgetta – Switzerland

mario@giorgetta.ch – https://giorgetta.ch/arte_rupestre.htm

Contextualising the Geoglyph of Huacán, southern Peru

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www.europreart.net/NAQ1

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TRACCE Online Rock Art Bulletin 46 – October 2020

# 46 – October 2020

TRACCE Online Rock Art Bulletin 46

––––––––––––––––––> by Footsteps of Man
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46: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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.

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NAQ1 virtual tour door

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by Andrea ARCÀ Read more

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NAQ1, settore P

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di Andrea ARCÀ Read more