A New Petroglyph Site in the Palpa Valley


A New Petroglyph Site in the Palpa Valley

Southern Peru


Maarten van Hoek

The valley of the Río Palpa, tributary of the Río Grande drainage in the Department of Ica on the south coast of Peru, is very rich in rock art sites; all comprising petroglyphs. At this moment (July 2022) nine sites with petroglyphs had already been recorded (more information about rock art in the Palpa Valley is available in my book about Páracas rock art: Van Hoek 2021: Fig. 7): Mollaque Chico, San Genaro, La Viuda, Pueblo Nuevo, La Cantera 1 (located at both sites of the newly asphalted road), Chichitara, La Cabañita, El Vado and Letrayoq.

It is remarkable that all those sites are found on the left (east) side of the valley. This also applies to a new (tenth) site reported by Joel Chávez Cocinando in July 2021. He calls the site Pueblo Nuevo, but it is in fact found much closer to the rock art site of La Cantera (Núñez Jiménez 1986: 277) and for that reason I prefer to use the name of La Cantera 2. This new site is found about 66 km inland, roughly at 540 m asl (while the valley floor to the west is at 510 m asl). The rock art site (with so far only one decorated boulder) of Pueblo Nuevo (Núñez Jiménez 1986: 273) is 1220 m to the SSW and La Cantera (1) is only 160 m to the NW of La Cantera 2 (Figure 1). The approximate UTM co-ordinates of the La Cantera 2 site are: 485115.00 m E and 8399902.00 m S (in Google Earth 2021).

Figure 1. The location of La Cantera 2 (and 1) in the Palpa Valley, Peru (200 m scale). Map © by Maarten van Hoek, based on Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

There is at least one panel with petroglyphs at La Cantera 2, probably forming part of an outcrop wall SW of an unnamed dry quebrada. As I have not visited this site, I can only give a preliminary description of the petroglyphs (Figure 2). There are at least four outlined images of quadrupeds. Three of the animals (camelids or foxes?) are looking to the NW; one (feline?) is looking to the SE. There are more indeterminable lines among or surrounding those four animals (one possibly depicting a dotted feline?). The style of the images is similar to the petroglyphs found elsewhere in the valley. At the site are many more outcrop panels and fallen boulders, some just possibly with more petroglyphs. This needs to be checked in the field.

Figure 2. The panel at La Cantera 2. Drawing © by Maarten van Hoek (possibly inaccurate), based on the illustrations by Chávez Cocinando 2021.

Even when only one decorated panel is found at this site, it is still important, as its location confirms that the east bank of the valley was clearly favourite when travelling from the coast to the highlands (and vice versa). The site of La Cantera 2 offers views of the river, but its location just west of an ancient trail confirms the deliberately selection of rock art sites that are explained by the movements of people and goods up and down the valley  (Van Hoek 2021: Fig. 58; NB. La Cantera 2 is not marked on this map, but is located at the bottom part to the left of the green line).


Chávez Cocinando, J. 2021. Petroglifos de Pueblo Nuevo. In: YouTube.

Van Hoek, M. 2021. Seated Bimorphs in Paracas Rock Art. Oisterwijk, Holland. Book only available at ResearchGate.

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