Many rock art sites are easily destroyed, also in Peru, especially because of road constructions or mining activities. This paper describes three petroglyph sites near the village of Huaca Blanca in northern Peru. Especially Huaca Blanca has already been partially destroyed by unwanted quarrying. This paper offers a brief inventory of what is (was!) available during our surveys. The thumbnail to the right shows a prehistoric petroglyph next to recent damage.
By Maarten van Hoek
Updating the Rock Art near Huaca Blanca
Maarten van Hoek
Almost every major river valley in coastal Peru is rich in rock art. Those rock art sites mainly comprise petroglyphs. One of the most interesting drainages in this respect is the drainage of the river Reque – Chancay with at least 18 rock art sites, including the major site of Cerro Mulato, which is situated 3.5 km north of the Río Chancay (Figure 1). Opposite Cerro Mulato is another major – though lesser – petroglyph site called Huaca Blanca (Site 1 in Figure 2) named after the nearby village. In the neighbourhood of the village are two more yet minor rock art sites called Cerro El Mirador (Site 2 in Figure 2; on average 1 km west of the Huaca Blanca site) and Corral de Hoyos (Site 3 in Figure 2; 2 km west of Huaca Blanca).
Figure 1. The location of the study area of Huaca Blanca, Lambayeque Peru (respectively yellow oval and brown rectangle). Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek, based on OpenStreetMap – Contributors and Ugel-Chiclayo.
Click on any illustration to see an enlargement. Click on the enlargement to return to the main page of TRACCE. Please respect my Copyright. For more information click any of the underlined © signs in the relevant captions.
Figure 2. The location of the three petroglyph sites near Huaca Blanca, Lambayeque Peru. Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek, based on Google Earth.
The reasons to write a study of these three petroglyph sites near Huaca Blanca are bifold. First of all there has never been published a full inventory of any of those three sites. The well-known Cuban rock art researcher Núñez Jiménez only surveyed the rock art site of Cerro Mulato in this valley (1986). The only reference that I could find about the site of Huaca Blanca was a brief record in the Inventorio Nacional by Rainer Hostnig (2003: 220) who wrote that the site comprised a “Conjunto de 28 bloques de roca ígnea con petroglifos antropomorfos, zoomorfos y geométricos hechos con la técnica de raspado”. Hostnig referred to a publication by Linares (1969; 1985: 37) and in fact only repeated the text of Rogger Ravines (1986: 42), who in turn refers to the same publication by Linares Málaga. However, it is almost certain that Linares Málaga – a rock art researcher from Arequipa, southern Peru – never (fully) surveyed the site of Huaca Blanca. Several of his “recordings” are merely based on hearsay information, while – moreover – his recording of rock art panels was often enormously sloppy (see Van Hoek 2014: Fig. 5).
The same lack of information concerns the rock art site of Corral de Hoyos. Hostnig (2003: 220) only mentions “petroglifos” at this site, referring to Rondón and Linares (1985: 37); in both cases to one page only. In his book Hostnig also mentions the presence of 34 boulders at the petroglyph site of Playa Honda (2003: 222), which might be the same as Corral de Hoyos, as the (probably incorrect) co-ordinates mentioned by Rogger Ravines (1986: 42) locate this site in the same area. However, no further information is available at the moment (2021). Details about or references to the petroglyph site of Cerro El Mirador have – as far as I know – never been made available. Only a few photos were published online by a local from Huaca Blanca – Agustín Pérez Milián – in 2012, but these photos are no longer accessible.
My wife and I surveyed several petroglyph sites in the Chancay Valley seven times, and in 2011 and 2012 we also surveyed the rock art sites near the village of Huaca Blanca. In 2012 I published a book about the rock art sites of the Reque-Chancay drainage (free download of 32MB via my website) in which Huaca Blanca was represented with 81 photos of 45 of the decorated boulders that we registered in 2011 (2012: 197 – 222). We returned to Huaca Blanca in 2012 and in 2016 and altogether we were able to register 31 more boulders with petroglyphs, bringing the total to 76 boulders. In 2016 we could also locate some petroglyph boulders at Cerro El Mirador and Corral de Hoyos. All these new finds will be discussed here and – if appropriate – illustrated.
ERRATUM: In my 2012-book I also published three drawings of petroglyphs allegedly from the rock art site of Cerro Montería (2012: 223 and 224). They were based on small photos with a confusing caption/text in a website (www.patapo.pe.nu) that no longer exists (only one photo can still [December 2021] be traced in another website: https://danielpatapo.blogspot.com/). However, the three petroglyph panels are not from Cerro Montería, but proved to located at Cerro El Mirador. It is therefore most likely that the site of Cerro Montería does not exist at all. My apologies for those published errors.
The Violation of Huaca Blanca
The second reason to write a study of the rock art near the village of Huaca Blanca is the – literally and metaphorically – most disturbing fact that the rock art of the site of Huaca Blanca is seriously violated by a most unwanted and ongoing destruction of the site. In 2011we already noticed that several boulders were severely damaged, disturbed, moved or upturned by heavy machinery while moving about the machinery also damaged the natural setting of this Sacred Site. Severely scratched boulders were found by us over a distance of 600 m (ranging from NNW [two decorated boulders in the village] to SSE [well inside the major boulder field]). This mutilation is often concealed by vegetation, especially after rain (see Figures 10 and 13). This early damage should have been a serious warning to the local, regional and national authorities and to APAR, the official Peruvian rock art organisation, which was founded in 2007.
Unfortunately it proved that the 2011-damage was only the beginning of a destruction on a much larger scale. During our survey in 2016 we noticed further damage and in May 2019 the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio published an online article – together with several photos (one included on below) – about the ongoing threat to and the destruction of the rock art site of Huaca Blanca (referred by the newspaper as Agua Blanca). Also two 2019-videos on YouTube / YouTube clearly show the destruction.
Destruction at Huaca Blanca. Photograph published in El Comercio – Perú in May 2019 (© Comunidad Campesina Muchik Santa Catalina – Chaparrí – Chongoyape). I am much obliged to Sr. Juan Carrasco for his kind permission to publish this photo.
But also Google Earth offered proof of the enormous scale of the destruction. To give an example of the impact of the mining activities. The destruction (hopefully!) ended only a few meters northeast of the very important Boulder HBL-012 (approximated location indicated by the yellow circle in Figure 3). It may have been moved, destroyed or damaged, but unfortunately I have no information about the latest status of this lavishly decorated boulder. But even if Boulder HBL-012 itself is not disturbed or damaged (which I hope), its immediate surroundings will still critically be damaged and violated. If undamaged, it still is like demolishing a temple and leaving the altar intact. If damaged, it is a complete disgrace!
Figure 3. Satellite photos of Google Earth showing the scale of the destruction near Boulders HBL-011 and 012 (in the yellow circle). Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek.
It is thus a scandalous fact that the ancient Sacred Site of Huaca Blanca has extremely been violated and desecrated by those most unwanted mining activities. Especially the eastern backdrop of this Sacred Site has severely been mutilated. This shameful situation is a discredit for all authorities governing this area, which in fact is part of the Área de Conservación Privada Chaparrí; in fact an area protected by law (R.M. Nº 1324-2001-AG). Did they grant permission to destroy the site of Huaca Blanca? Did they try to stop it? The site should have been protected by that law and mining activities should never have been allowed by anyone. But yet mining goes on. It is a disgrace! Also the official organisation who claims to protect and preserve rock art sites in Peru – APAR – should have intervened in order to stop the destruction, especially as their website claims the following: Los principales objetivos de APAR son la defensa, protección, investigación y difusión responsable del arte rupestre peruano (my emphases). But APAR prefers to ignore legitimate caveats; also – and especially – mine (see for instance: Van Hoek 2014b).
Because of the destruction that continued after 2016, it is unknown to me which boulders have been destroyed, damaged, upturned or moved at the moment (2021). Therefore I decided to present an inventory of all the decorated boulders that are known to me (up to 2016) together with a short description. Some of the entries in the list (not a complete scientific inventory!) will be accompanied by an illustration. In several cases I will refer to an illustration in my 2012-publication, which is freely available at Academia via my website. I hope this list will be of some value for anyone concerned. If someone would like to receive a photograph of a specific petroglyph or panel, please contact me.
Because there is no official numbering of the boulders at the three sites near the village of Huaca Blanca, I have introduced my own numbering: HBL-001 etc for the boulders at Huaca Blanca; CEM-001 etc for Cerro El Mirador and COR-001 etc for Corral de Hoyos. When having more than one decorated panel, capital letters will be added, like HBL-016A. In only a few cases I know the exact location of the boulders, while most others are only very approximately indicated on the maps in this study. Please also notice that all illustrations in this study are my copyright (unless stated otherwise).
All decorated boulders at this site (Site 1 in Figure 2) – except for at least two boulders (HBL-001 and HBL-002) – are found south of the new road from Puente de Tablazos to Huaca Blanca at an altitude between 230 and 310 m asl. The map of Figure 4 only shows the very approximate locations of the decorated boulders and a circle may indicate a group of decorated boulders, even when only one number is shown (like HBL-012). Because of the destructive mining activities the illustrations presented in this study may be outdated, as the boulders listed in this record may be damaged (further), displaced, removed or even destroyed. There may also be (many) more decorated boulders that were covered by dense, often thorny bushes or vegetational debris. It must also be noted that many panels are extremely weathered and in many cases petroglyphs are barely visible. In such cases no illustration will be included.
HBL-001: Boulder located directly east of the southernmost street in the village. Damaged and probably dislocated or moved. One outlined zoomorph (a frog?); one match-stick zoomorph; one “butterfly-like” image and a pecked area. Possibly more markings (Van Hoek 2012: 199).
HBL-002: Boulder located directly west of the southernmost street in the village. Damaged and probably dislocated or moved. One outlined anthropomorph with raised arms, possibly holding an object; a few pecked markings (Van Hoek 2012: 199).
HBL-003: This is the first boulder south of the road, situated in an area that proved to have been fenced off in 2016 (after having been cleared?). Large. Damaged. Panel A: Possible zoomorph (damaged); very faint (anthropomorphic?) figure; faint markings. Panel B (Van Hoek 2012: 199): A bird with outspread wings. On the edge of Panel B sits a match-stick zoomorphic figure (a lizard?).
Figure 4: Site 1 near Huaca Blanca. Map © by Maarten van Hoek, based on Google Earth.
HBL-004: (Figure 5). Large. Damaged. Panel A (Figure 6): One outlined zoomorph (a lizard?); several (chaotic and very faint) lines and some pecked areas. Panel B (Van Hoek 2012: 199; PDF of this book available via my website; this message will not be repeated anymore): Two large rectangular patterns (biomorphic?) and one small anthropomorphic (re-pecked?) figure. Several (groups) of faint lines. Panel C: one large, possibly anthropomorphic figure and a pattern of lines.
Figure 5. The location of Boulder HBL-004 looking NW across the Chancay Valley towards the top (faintly visible) of the rock art site of Cerro Mulato and Cerro Chaparrí beyond. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
Figure 6. Panel HBL-004A. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-005: Boulders 5 (Van Hoek 2012: 200), 6 and 7 form a small group. Panel A (Figure 7A): Large outlined zoomorph (a quadruped?); small pecked zoomorph (lizard?); many very faint petroglyphs (lines and possibly two lizards?). Panel B (Figure 7B): Very faint, large match-stick biomorph with a natural projection near its genital area (a lizard or an anthropomorph); more very faint markings.
Figure 7. Panels HBL-005A and B. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-006: Large. Disturbed. Damaged (Figure 8). Panel A: large, possibly zoomorphic figure; small match-stick camelid; more faint markings. On the edge between Panel A and B are three biomorphic match-stick figures (lizards?) with their bodies exactly aligned with the edge. Panel B: Some very faint markings (not visible in the photo below).
Figure 8. Panels HBL-006A and B. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-007: The upper Panel A: Complex pattern (forming a biomorphic figure?). Lower Panel B: Very small bird with outspread wings; large quadruped with long tail; large, fully laterally depicted bird (these two petroglyphs have the same internal curl); large bird (?) with outspread wings possibly depicted from above; pattern of a possible biomorph; some faint markings (Van Hoek 2012: 201).
HBL-008: Large. Panel A: two outlined, laterally depicted birds; faint lines (some forming biomorphs?). Panel B: Chaotic group of much weathered petroglyphs (including a concentric circle and a lizard?); ring with internal markings (a head?); (Van Hoek 2012: 202). Panel C): faint (circular) markings.
HBL-009: Vertical panel with two levels (Figure 9). Upper Level A (Van Hoek 2012: 203): Zoomorph with triangular body filled with dots (compare this with similar triangles at Cerro Mulato; rectangular pattern (anthropomorph?); complex indeterminable pattern. Lower Level B (Figure 9): Biomorph (frog?); ring and lines (hidden by vegetation). Panel C (Van Hoek 2012: 202): Six vertical and parallel lines hanging from a horizontal line; dot and ring-mark.
Figure 9. Panel HBL-009. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-010: Large triangle filled with dots (compare with Cerro Mulato); two patterns with lines (one blurred by vegetation); some very faint lines (Van Hoek 2012: 203).
HBL-011: Pecked area (a biomorph?) on a vertical panel (Van Hoek 2012: 203).
HBL-012: One of the most important decorated boulders at Huaca Blanca (Van Hoek 2012: 204 – 205). The area around Boulders HBL-011 and 012 proved to have been heavily disturbed in 2011 (the words “disturbed” indicate a modern and damaging access-road), while the damaged was only covered by vegetation in 2012 (Figure 10). Panel A Upper: Three outlined quadrupeds; small possible anthropomorph; several groups of pecked lines (two forming birds with outspread wings?). Panel A Mid: Outlined quadruped. Panel A Lower: Fully pecked quadruped; group of lines including circles or semi-circles; some faint pecked areas and lines. Panel B (Van Hoek 2012: 206 – 207): Outlined cross with central dot; anthropomorph with large “tumi” on its head (see Figure 28 and Van Hoek 2014a: Fig. 11); large pattern (possibly biomorphic); anthropomorphic figure with “rabbit-ears”; several other more faint petroglyphs.
Figure 10. Boulders HBL-011 and 012. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-013: Damaged. A petroglyph that looks like an anthropomorphic figure that seems to carry a rectangular object in each hand (Van Hoek 2012: 208).
HBL-014: Very faint, fully laterally depicted, outlined quadruped (Van Hoek 2012: 208).
HBL-015: Small circle with central dot and four, short, downward pointing parallel lines (a “trophy” head?); rectilinear groove (Van Hoek 2012: 208).
HBL-016: Large boulder (Van Hoek 2012: 209 to 212). Sloping upper Panel A (Figure 11A and B): Large rectangle filled with many parallel and vertically arranged lines with a pecked area with a (semi-)circle (an eye [?] of a large bird with outspread wings? – compare this petroglyph with a clearly bird image at Cerro Mulato: Figure 11C); some chaotic lines. Panel B (Van Hoek 2012: 210): Possible anthropomorph (or zoomorphic – a lizard?) with raised arms (legs) partially outlined; pecked triangle between the legs; some very faint lines. Panel C (Van Hoek 2012: 211 – 212): Triangle filled with dots (compare with Cerro Mulato); one outlined zoomorph; one fully pecked anthropomorph with raised arms; large ring with internal rectangular pattern; a further chaos of lines. Panel D (Van Hoek 2012: 210 and 212): One fully pecked anthropomorphic figure; circle; indeterminate figure.
Figure 11. A and B: Panel HBL-016A; C: Petroglyph on Panel CMr-362A at Cerro Mulato. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-017: One small anthropomorphic figure (Van Hoek 2012: 208).
HBL-018: One small anthropomorphic figure with only two eyes in its circular head; S-shape; very faint anthropomorphic figure with rectangular head; some faint grooves (Van Hoek 2012: 212).
HBL-019: Large outlined cross with a second, internal and thus smaller outlined cross (Van Hoek 2012: 213); some faint grooves.
HBL-020: Large, outlined crescent-shape at the top of a conical boulder (compare with petroglyphs at Cerro Mulato) (Van Hoek 2012: 213).
HBL-021: Large, outlined anthropomorphic figure (holding a linear object?) with large outlined circles for feet (no toes) and a faint headdress; at least four more petroglyphs, including a small, fully pecked zoomorph (Van Hoek 2012: 213).
HBL-022: Very faint petroglyph(s?); including a possible small, fully pecked anthropomorphic figure (Van Hoek 2012: 213).
HBL-023: Extremely faint petroglyphs.
HBL-024: Extremely faint petroglyphs.
HBL-025: Very faint biomorph (lizard or anthropomorph?) (Van Hoek 2012: 214).
HBL-026: Panel A: Faint undulating lines (partially running parallel). Panel B: Lines (possibly the continuation of the lines on Panel A (a snake?); (Van Hoek 2012: 214).
HBL-027: Five small petroglyphs (including a line; a cross; an oval, deformed ring and two indeterminable patterns) (Van Hoek 2012: 215).
HBL-028: An extremely faint petroglyph (a lizard??).
HBL-029: Panel A: Some extremely faint petroglyphs. Panel B: A semi-circle and a possible zoomorphic figure. (Van Hoek 2012: 215).
HBL-030: Small anthropomorphic figure, its body fully pecked, without legs; an outlined zoomorph (a lizard?); an undulating patter; a hump-backed, fully laterally depicted quadruped; two groups of indeterminate patterns (Van Hoek 2012: 215).
HBL-031: Semi-circle and attached lines; possibly one or two circles; three parallel lines from the top of the panel? (Van Hoek 2012: 216).
HBL-032: Biomorphic match-stick figure (a lizard?); some very faint markings (possibly a second similar biomorph). (Van Hoek 2012: 216).
HBL-033: Severely damaged. Panel A (Van Hoek 2012: 216 – 217): One fully pecked laterally depicted quadruped; a small outlined anthropomorphic figure; two possible zoomorphs with a long curled tail; several groups of lines, one possibly depicting a large bird. On the edge between Panel A and Panel B: A vertically arranged rake-like figure. Panel B (Van Hoek 2012: 217): Three zoomorphic figures (two outlined) and some faint markings.
HBL-034: Outlined zoomorph with long curled tail; pecked area (Van Hoek 2012: 218).
HBL-035: Extremely faint lines forming no recognisable pattern.
HBL-036: Outlined quadruped with a long curled tail and a small circle inside the body (its head has flaked off by natural causes) (Figure 12); some very faint, parallel lines (that could represent the wings of a bird?); some possible markings. A possible circle on the apex of the boulder (hardly visible in the photo).
Figure 12: Boulder HBL-036. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-037: Panel A: Complex pattern of rectilinear lines (MSC-Style?); two very faint, small match-stick figures (anthropomorphs, lizards?). Panel B: One larger match-stick figure of a lizard. (Van Hoek 2012: 218).
HBL-038: Large cross with a small line across the end of each arm; four (groups of) lines forming no recognisable patterns (Van Hoek 2012: 219).
HBL-039: Damaged. Disturbed. Chaos of lines forming no recognisable patterns; fully pecked lizard (Van Hoek 2012: 219).
HBL-040: Large. Fractured. Damaged. Panel A: Complex patterns of rectangles with two internal rectangular spirals; many other groups of lines; one faint lizard-like figure; possible outlined zoomorph on fragment. Panel B: Fragment from the main boulder broken off by heavy machinery: some faint lines. (Van Hoek 2012: 220).
HBL-041: Panel A (Van Hoek 2012: 221): Large square with internal markings (including a circle); group of lines that continues onto the flat top; two groups of lines possibly depicting a match-stick zoomorph and an outlined zoomorph with a triangular body; many other (groups of) lines; one possible anthropomorphic match-stick figure. Panel B: Much weathered by vegetation rubbing the surface are some (also exfoliated) areas with some faint petroglyphs.
HBL-042: Panel A: One large and one small crescent pointing to the top of the boulder; several faint markings and lines, one set of lines forming a large and complex rectangular figure, the other set possibly a large spiral. Panel B: two lizard-like petroglyphs, one very faint (Van Hoek 2012: 222).
HBL-043: Two faint anthropomorphic match-stick figures (or zoomorphs – lizards?); many (very) faint and indistinct markings (Van Hoek 2012: 219).
HBL-044: Slightly damaged. Displaced? Set of two parallel zigzagging lines; several very faint lines (Van Hoek 2012: 219).
HBL-045: Panel A (Figure 13): Large match-stick anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figure (lizard?); one outlined figure (zoomorphic?); some faint markings (including two sets of two parallel lines). Panel B: Pattern of two outlined triangles (each with an internal dot) joined at their apexes; some more faint markings. (Van Hoek 2012: 222).
Figure 13: Boulder HBL-045. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-046: Fully pecked crescent; group of lines and an outlined pecked area forming no recognisable pattern (possibly a fish?).
HBL-047: Large. Damaged. Circle; some lines.
HBL-048: Panel A: Outlined, curvilinear pattern (a zoomorph?). Panel B: Some very faint lines (Figure 14).
HBL-049: Large. Damaged. Pecked figure (unfinished lizard?); some faint markings including an (extremely faint bird [?] and a possible zoomorphic figure (a lizard or a snake?).
HBL-050: A long line, its top bisecting a pecked area (a zoomorph?); a very faint outlined triangle? More very faint markings.
Figure 14: Boulder HBL-048. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-051: A heavily damaged and possibly disturbed boulder with many (recent?) lines and patterns, now almost impossible to decipher.
HBL-052: Two groups of random lines.
HBL-053: Pattern of lines possibly depicting a zoomorphic figure (a lizard or an anthropomorph holding a stick above its head?); some indistinct markings (Figure 15).
Figure 15: Boulder HBL-053. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-054: Fragmented. Outlined (zoomorphic?) figure.
HBL-055: Some very faint lines; vertical pecked line on edge?
HBL-056: (Figure 16). Panel A: Two match-stick biomorphs (lizards?); some faint markings. Panel B: lines and small pattern of lines.
HBL-057: Very faint lines.
Figure 16: Boulder HBL-056. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-058: Very faint (zoomorphic?) pattern.
HBL-059: Very faint markings.
HBL-060: Two concentric circles; some faint markings.
HBL-061: Indistinct pattern of lines.
HBL-062: Damaged. Definitely upturned and probably dislocated as well (the arrow indicates the original slope). Petroglyph of a fish with skeleton body (inverted by the upturning of the boulder); some indistinct lines including a lizard-like figure (Figure 17).
Figure 17: Boulder HBL-062. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-063: Possible anthropomorphic figure (unfinished?).
HBL-064: Snake-like zoomorph with rows of dots (a feathered snake?).
HBL-065: Large, almost rectangular head with a neck (and partial body?) and facial features and ears; some faint markings, one U shaped (Figure 18).
Figure 18: Boulder HBL-065. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-066: Two long lines with a large number of small lines on one side pointing in opposite directions; pattern of lines (Figure 19).
Figure 19: Boulder HBL-066. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-067: Complex petroglyph of a fully frontally depicted bird with outspread wings with a curl inside the body; possible lizard; some faint markings (Figure 20).
Figure 20: Boulder HBL-067. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-068: Panel A: Fully pecked lizard. Panel B: A similar but smaller petroglyph (Figure 21).
Figure 21: Boulder HBL-068 (Panels A and B). Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-069: Lightly pecked (outlined) zoomorph with a long curled tail; some markings and pecked areas. Some lines (like the letter “M”?) may represent more recent signs of vandalism (Figure 22).
Figure 22: Boulder HBL-069. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
HBL-070: Damaged. Groups of faint lines and patterns, one possibly representing an outlined zoomorph.
HBL-071: Damaged. Circles and lines; indeterminate markings; a large pecked area (a zoomorph??); small, amorphous pecked area.
HBL-072: Possible head and neck pattern; large semi-circle with attached lines (a head?).
HBL-073: Some very faint markings.
HBL-074: Pecked area (a zoomorph??).
HBL-075: Two very faint groups of lines.
HBL-076: Small, outlined anthropomorphic figure (no facials) holding a linear object in its left hand (Figure 23).
Figure 23: Boulder HBL-076. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
CERRO EL MIRADOR
A minimum of nine decorated boulders at this site (Site 2 in Figure 2) are located south of the new road from Puente de Tablazos to Huaca Blanca, somewhere on the south-north running ridge of Cerro El Mirador (between roughly 250 m and 300 m asl), the northern end of which seems to be topped by an ancient (Chimú?) fortress. The information that I offer about this site and its petroglyphs is mainly based on the photos uploaded onto the internet by Agustín Pérez Milián from Huaca Blanca (website no longer accessible). The photos that I downloaded from the internet all show the stones in dense and lush vegetation and thus possibly some petroglyphs and/or further petroglyph boulders are hidden. Furthermore, several images are rather weathered and thus uncertain. Lack of time and the dense vegetation inhibited us to survey the ridge south of the road. A tenth boulder with petroglyphs (CEM-010) was discovered for the first time by us in 2016. It is located somewhere north of the new road from Puente de Tablazos to Huaca Blanca. I will not reveal its exact location here, but rock art researchers who wish to receive more information about its location can always contact me.
CEM-001: Incorrectly registered by me as Cerro Montería MON-001 (Van Hoek 2012: 223). Central dot with two concentric rings and two appendages (Figure 24A). On the same panel are some more indistinct markings possibly depicting a fully pecked zoomorph (a frog?). Boulders CEM-001, 006, 007 and 008 form a small linear concentration on the ridge.
CEM-002: Incorrectly registered by me as Cerro Montería MON-003 (Van Hoek 2012: 224-right). A long and linear comb-like petroglyph separates two panels (Figure 24B) . One panel has an outlined quadruped and a possible zoomorph or abstract design with four appendages ending in a circle. The other panel has at least one rake-like petroglyph, a circle and a dot-and-circle motif. There are more very faint markings. A third panel (almost completely invisible in the photos that I have) has possible petroglyphs.
Figure 24: Boulders A: CEM-001, B: 002 and C: 009. Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek.
CEM-003: On top of a slightly higher part of this boulder is a fully pecked rectangle attached to a pecked dot. From the rectangle emerge four long thin pecked grooves. The whole gives the impression of a perceptive anthropomorphic figure. Again there are some more very faint markings (for instance two adjoining arcs).
CEM-004: An almost vertical panel (CEM-004A) has a concentration of (straight and undulating) lines including a large grid-like pattern; one group of lines possible depicting a zoomorph (lizard or frog?). The other side of the boulder (Panel CEM-004B) has a group of much weathered and almost illegible markings.
CEM-005: Panel CEM-005A has a rake-motif and a possible (fully pecked) anthropomorphic (?) figure (with both arms upraised?). Panel B has some (curved) lines not forming any special pattern.
CEM-006: This boulder – located “behind” Boulder CEM-001 – has at least two circles both with a central dot (symbolising eyes) with a tongue-like motif below, some faint markings and an outlined triangle with possible facial features. Further down on the same panel are some markings that just possibly might depict a zoomorphic figure (a frog??).
CEM-007: Only very faintly visible in one of the photos is a boulder (“behind Boulder CEM-006) with a central dot with two concentric rings. There may be more petroglyphs on this panel.
CEM-008: A boulder “in front of” Boulder CEM-001 has some faint (parallel) lines and some more even fainter markings.
CEM-009: Most likely incorrectly registered by me as Cerro Montería MON-002 (Van Hoek 2012: 224-left). This boulder has a smooth, almost vertical panel with a rather complex abstract pattern, which, because of its modular width, possibly is a MSC-Style design (Figure 24C).
CEM-010: This boulder, discovered for the first time by Elles and Maarten van Hoek in 2016, is located north of the main road from Puente de Tablazos to Huaca Blanca. It is a flat and low boulder that is easily covered by vegetation and/or debris. It possibly has one of the oldest petroglyphs of this site, as it features a more complex pattern of curved, parallel lines (displaying modular width; a Formative Period characteristic of images) that may depict an MSC-Style motif (a mouth-element perhaps?). The motif may be compared with a similar petroglyph at the ancient (Formative Period) petroglyph site of El Progreso – also known as Las Piedras Negras (see Van Hoek 2012: 265) and with a motif at Cerro La Cal (Van Hoek 2012: 252). There are some more very faint markings on the panel (Figure 25).
Figure 25: Boulder CEM-010. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.
CORRAL DE HOYOS
All decorated boulders at this site (Site 3 in Figure 2) are located only a short distance south of the new road from Puente de Tablazos to Huaca Blanca. The rather flat area (an alluvial fan at about 235 m asl) has been disturbed by building activities and possibly by clearances. Decorated boulders may therefore have been disturbed, moved or destroyed.
COR-001A: This panel has patterns of curved lines that might represent some MSC-Style figure. Panel B has a fully pecked zoomorph, a simple cross and several indistinct lines. All petroglyphs are faint and weathered (Figure 26).
Figure 26: Boulder COR-001. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
COR-002: Further south is a boulder with a fully pecked crescent-shaped petroglyph (Figure 27A), comparable with several examples at Cerro Mulato (Van Hoek 2012: 92, 118, 151).
Figure 27: A: Boulder COR-002; B: Boulder COR-003. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
COR-003: Another distance further south is a boulder with one outlined triangle and a complex of four joined triangles, all outlined. There may be more markings on this panel (Figure 27B).
Dating the Rock Art near Huaca Blanca
Dating the rock art of the rock art near Huaca Blanca is notoriously difficult. There are no unambiguous images of the so-called MSC-Style. The MSC-Style – an unbiased acronym introduced by me (Van Hoek 2011) to indicate a distinctive group of biomorphic images or parts thereof – encompasses all Andean Formative Period rock art images that are too easily and – in my opinion (in most – if not all – cases) incorrectly – labelled as Chavín-Style images or even as being of Chavín manufacture. MSC-Style rock art images, which are predominantly (much) older than Chavín, are characterised by mainly biomorphic imagery (or very specific elements thereof) especially depicting the (often isolated) heads of zoomorphs and anthropomorphs (or conflations of the two) with an often agnatic mouth that repeatedly shows the typical ‘fat’ lip, downward curved mouth corners and prominent teeth and/or (interlocking) fangs, while the eyes often have eccentric pupils.
MSC-Style images thus encompass a limited array of typical Formative Period biomorphic images that have been created by the ancient Manchay, Sechín and Cupisnique cultures of the coastal area of central and northern Peru. The group of MSC-Style petroglyphs may be 2000 to 6000 years old. Unfortunately, unambiguous MSC-Style petroglyphs are absent at Huaca Blanca, Cerro El Mirador and Corral de Hoyos. Yet, at Cerro Mulato (4.2 km north of Boulder CEM-010 and on the north bank of the Río Chancay) are several unequivocal MSC-Style images (Van Hoek 2012: 146, 147, 159, 181). But also modular width is an MSC-Style property, which seems to be present in certain petroglyphs in the Study Area, for instance on Boulders HBL-004, HBL-037, HBL-040, CEM-009, CEM-010 and COR-001.
Figure 28: Panel HBL-012B. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.
Many other petroglyphs near Huaca Blanca will be of the same date, although there is not yet any evidence to support this claim. Other images will be later and may belong to Salinar, Moche or even later cultures. Again, there is no proof to support any further chronology, except for the Tumi-Bearer on Panel HBL-012B (Figure 28), which may be of Moche-Chimú origin.
Hostnig, R. 2003. Arte rupestre del Perú. Inventario Nacional. CONCYTEC, Lima, Perú.
Núñez Jiménez, A. 1986. Petroglifos del Perú. Panorama mundial del arte rupestre. 2da. Ed. PNUD-UNESCO – Proyecto Regional de Patrimonio Cultural y Desarrollo, La Habana.
Ravines, R. 1986. Arte Rupestre del Perú. Inventario General. INC. Lima, Perú.
Van Hoek, M. 2011. The Chavín Controversy – Rock Art from the Andean Formative Period. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. A PDF of this book is available at ResearchGate.
Van Hoek, M. 2012. Cerro Mulato: Rock Art of the Reque-Chancay Drainage, Peru. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. PDF of this book is available via my website.
Van Hoek, M. 2014a. The Tumi-Bearer of Pampa Grande, Lambayeque, Peru. Adoranten-2013. pp. 97 – 109. Underslös, Sweden. PDF available at Academia.
Van Hoek, M. 2014b. The Motocachy Pampa Disaster, Peru. In: TRACCE – On-line Rock Art Bulletin, Italy.
Van Hoek, M. 2014c. A critical analysis of the rock art on boulder CNG-020, Cerro Negro, Chicama, La Libertad, Perú. In: Rupestreweb.
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