Petroglyphs at Cerro Mal Paso, Peru

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This paper describes the several rock art panels recorded by us after 2012 at the rock art site of Cerro Mal Paso in the Chancay Valley of northern Peru. In addition also some other petroglyph- panels at the site have been recorded by other explorers, as well as a few petroglyph panels recorded by others beyond Cerro Mal Paso. The focus of the paper is on a rather enigmatic image, a possible anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figure (lizard or bird?), while this study also offers a tentative explanation of the anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figure.

By Maarten van Hoek



An Update

of the Petroglyphs at Cerro Mal Paso

Chancay Valley, Northern Peru




Maarten van Hoek




The Reque-Chancay Valley in northern Peru (stretching inland for about 80 km east of the city of Chiclayo) abounds in rock art sites, some belonging to the most important rock art sites of the Desert Andes (South America). Best known and well-documented is, of course, Cerro Mulato (Site 2 in Figure 1), which was probably first described and illustrated by Gerdt Kutscher in 1963. After his publication several explorers surveyed the site, among which is the well-known Cuban researcher Antonio Núñez Jiménez, who published a section about Cerro Mulato in his extensive book about the rock art in Peru (1986: 93 – 172). Unfortunately, many of his illustrations regarding (not only) Cerro Mulato (including his two maps) are demonstrably incorrect (Van Hoek 2011a: 21 – 37). Also French archaeologist Jean Guffroy published a (mainly photographic) section about Cerro Mulato (2009).

After having surveyed many sites in the Reque-Chancay Valley (also known as the Lambayeque Valley), I published a book about the rock art in that enchanting valley (Van Hoek 2012a). However, we visited the area again in the years after 2012 and found more rock art at Cerro Mulato (now [up to 2024] housing more than 570 decorated boulders and outcrops), but we also re-visited the lesser-known rock art site of Cerro Mal Paso, (Site 1 in Figure 1), which is located roughly 7 km SW of Cerro Mulato, also on the north bank of the Chancay Valley.

Figure 1. Map of the Reque-Chancay Valley showing the locations of Cerro Mal Paso (Site 1), Cerro Mulato (Site 2) and Cerro La Cal (Site 3). Map © by Maarten van Hoek, based on the map © by OpenStreetMap – Contributors.

Click on any illustration to see an enlargement.


In my book I briefly described the site and illustrated 13 petroglyph boulders at Cerro Mal Paso (Van Hoek 2012a: 187 -196), but after that my wife Elles and I re-visited the site and recorded more boulders. We now know of 30 petroglyph boulders at Cerro Mal Paso. Moreover, we were able to photograph petroglyphs that were better visible at that time. Those new finds (and some discoveries by other people at nearby places) are the reasons to write this update.

Figure 2. View of the Reque-Chancay Valley, looking NE from the rock art site of Cerro La Cal (Site 3 in Figure 1) across the north bank of the Chancay Valley towards Cerro Mal Paso in the distance (about 7 km from Cerro La Cal). The High Andes are visible at the horizon. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.


Provisional Inventory

This “inventory” offers the situation up to 2017 and therefore the list may not (and probably will not) be complete, because more rock art may well have been recorded in the area, or rock art boulders, outcrops or panels, even individual petroglyphs may have been missed by us during our surveys in the area. Up to 2012 we recorded 14 decorated boulders at Cerro Mal Paso and illustrated thirteen of those boulders in my 2012-book (plus a drawing of the images on Boulder CMP-009 that we did not see at that time).

In this inventory I offer a “complete” list of all the petroglyph boulders known to me to have been recorded up to 2024, when required only referring to the (unnumbered) illustrations published in my 2012- book (which is still available online as a free PDF). There are at least two smooth panels at Cerro Mal Paso with a large number of large, deep, anthropic depressions and some smaller cupules (all [domestic or ritual] grinding holes?) (a photo of one panel was published by me earlier [Van Hoek 2012a: 188]; the second was transported to the farmhouse below the site after 2012) that have not been included into this list, not being regarded in this study as true petroglyphs. All entries are prefixed by CMP (like CMP-001 etc.).

Finally, almost every petroglyph at Cerro Mal Paso has been executed by (very) superficially pecking out the image. On top of that, many surfaces have weathered considerably, rendering it often hard or even impossible to identify the type of image. Especially one type of image is hard to classify. It concerns the fully frontally depicted – often simple, match-stick – images of either anthropomorphic figures, or of zoomorphs (like lizards). Often, the image itself does not offer any clue, and for that reason in this study those images are called anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures, but all my interpretations are subjective and may be questionable.

CMP-001: A photo of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 189).

CMP-002: Two photos of this boulder were published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 189).

CMP-003: Large, split boulder (?) with several often very much weathered petroglyphs. There may also be faint markings on the upper surfaces of this stone. Panel A: Cross symbol; two or three anthropomorphic or zoomorphic images. Panel B: Quadruped; two crosses; square; eight simple biomorphs, including at least two anthropomorphs (?); a small bird; and many more unidentifiable markings.

Figure 3. Looking east across Panel CMP-006B. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.

Figure 4. Boulder CMP-003 and detail of Panel CMP-003B (left part). Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-004: Boulder probably recently displaced and damaged. Circle enclosing a centrally placed, circular area from which six lines radiate (no photo published).

CMP-005: A photo of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 189).

CMP-006: Four photos of this boulder were published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 187 -190). See also Figure 3 to see a close-up of Panel CMP-006B.

CMP-007: A photo of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 191).

CMP-008: Three photos of this boulder were published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 191-192). Several petroglyphs on this boulder showed up much better in a later survey (Figure 5). Panel AB now revealed much better the anthropomorphic match-stick figure having an outlined head (?) from which short rays emerged. Panel B also features a lizard with a fat belly. The top of the boulder also has petroglyphs, most of them covered by bird-droppings. Panel C may have more petroglyphs than recorded earlier, but these could not be inspected because of a thick thorn bush in front of the boulder.

Figure 5. Boulder CMP-008 and details of Panels CMP-008A and B. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-009: This boulder (and several others at this site) was probably first reported by local layperson, yet most active archaeologist Francisco Diaz Núñez in 2001. A drawing of two (parts of) the panels of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 196). But after 2012 it proved to have more petroglyphs and more decorated panels.

Panel A: This long panel (its top often covered in bird droppings) has numerous (often faint) petroglyphs including several anthropomorphic figures (or lizards?); possibly two birds depicted in profile; two large crosses (one with a small, internal circle) that are joined together; a plant-like (branched) figure with – to its left – a small figure enclosed by an irregular frame; several (faint) curls or spirals and several other faint markings (Figure 6; Figure 7 drawing).

Figure 6. Panel CMP-009A. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.

Figure 7. Panel CMP-009A. Drawing © by Maarten van Hoek, based on photographs kindly shared with me by Ignacio Alva Meneses in 2012.


Panel B: The back-side of Panel A also has many (often very faint) petroglyphs, including – near the top – two large zoomorphic figures (possibly monkeys, judging by their long curled tails) that are confronting each other in an upright position (Figure 8A). There are some very faint other petroglyphs near this couple, including a large ring. Further down, but mainly arranged along the upper edge of the panel are a long row of small dots; very faint biomorphic figures; some ring marks and a rather clear, fully pecked zoomorph with a long curling tail (Figure 8B).

Figure 8. Details of Panel CMP-009B. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.


Panel C: The far north end of the long boulder has an almost vertical panel (Figure 9C) on which at least two anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures are visible and one possible anthropomorphic figure. To the right are more faint petroglyphs. Panel D: In the shade below Panel C is a pecked T-shaped petroglyph superimposing (?) some faint markings (Figure 9D).

Figure 9. Panels CMP-009C and D and details. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-010: A photo of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 192).

CMP-011: Two photos were published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 192-193).

CMP-012: Two photos of this boulder were published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 193).

CMP-013: A photo of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 193).

CMP-014: Four photos were published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 194-195). Figure 10; see also the cover-photo of this study.

Figure 10. Panels CMP-014A and B. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-015: A photo of this boulder was published by me earlier (Van Hoek 2012a: 195).


Additions after the publication of my 2012-book

The following six entries concern boulders with (often rather faint) petroglyphs that have been recorded by my wife and I after the publication of my 2012-book. The descriptions are provisional. It is highly recommended that a (team of) specialist(s) surveys the whole area again in hopefully better conditions – and aided by special equipment – will generate better photos.

CMP-016: Smooth boulder with possibly three anthropomorphic-zoomorphic petroglyphs (all visible below the numbers in Figure 11) and – to their right – two roughly pecked, parallel bands (anthropic?) and possibly some more (unrecognisable) markings.

Figure 11. Boulder CMP-016. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-017: One clearly visible “bird’s paw” motif and some very faint pecked lines.

Figure 12. Part of Boulder CMP-017. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-018: Long boulder with several facets with petroglyphs, mainly of anthropic-zoomorphic figures (numbered 1 to 3 in Figure 13; and indicated with lower-case letters in Figure 14) and some more hard to recognise petroglyphs (three marked with yellow dots). One of those images (between 1 and 2) may represent a square. Image Figure 14-2C may represent a rake. Part 3 is missing part of an image. This may have natural cause, but equally it may have been an attempt to remove and steal a petroglyph (even at this remote site).

CMP-019: A very long boulder has on its vertical surface – and mainly arranged along its upper edge – a rather large collection of petroglyphs. These include (1 in Figures 13 and 14) a square enclosing an “X”; a long anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figure; a circle with lines attached and several faint lines, as well as (2 in Figures 13 and 14) an outlined “H” with lines attached; an outlined V-motif; a circle with enclosed “X” (all recent?); and several more patterns that cannot be identified. Walking around the boulder did not reveal any more petroglyphs (although there still may be some images that went unnoticed).

Figure 13. Boulder CMP-018. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.

Figure 14. Details 1 to 3 at Boulder CMP-018. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.

Figure 15. Boulder CMP-019. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.

Figure 16. Details of Boulder CMP-019. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-020: This boulder (Figure 17) has a rather steeply sloping panel featuring a large square with internal decoration (including an “X” composed of parallel lines?), perhaps another large square (the whole partially enclosed by a rectangle?).

Figure 17. Boulder CMP-020. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.


CMP-021: This large, irregular boulder has several (mainly small) panels that each has one or two petroglyphs. Panel A: at least one anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figure; Panel B: one circular motif; Panel C: an outlined triangle; Panel D: a rectangle with flexed line and some more faint lines attached, and possibly two fully pecked biomorphs, positioned back to back; Panel E: a large square composed of a large number of dots, now (naturally) damaged, but originally counting possibly up to 90 dots (Figure 18).

Figure 18. Panel CMP-021E. Photograph © by Maarten van Hoek.


Petroglyphs Recorded by Other Visitors

The following nine entries concern boulders or outcrop panels with (in the snapshots that I have consulted) petroglyphs that have been recorded by other visitors to the Mal Paso area. As both the petroglyphs and the photographs are often blurred, it is hard to distinguish the correct layout of the images. And because I have not seen those stones myself, I can only offer provisional and imprecise (and probably incomplete) descriptions (and no photos; I will include some rough sketches at the most). Several (if not all) of those boulders have been discovered by archaeologist Francisco Diaz Núñez from Pátapo-Chiclayo. The illustrations in this section are therefore most likely all based on photos made and posted by Francisco.

CMP-022: Long boulder with at least two decorated panels. Panel A: from right to left there is a large biomorphic image of probably a lizard with a very long tail. It is flanked by two much fainter (similar?) lizards (?). Further to the left is a large, outlined zoomorph (most likely a bird) whose tail is connected by a curved groove to the head of a small zoomorph with a long curled tail. Finally there is a group of often straight lines that may depict something biomorphic. It seems to have been topped by a fully pecked Tumi-shaped object (a Tumi is a sacred, ritual Andean knife). Panel B: At least one anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figure (invisible in the drawing below).

Figure 19. Boulder CMP-022. Rough sketch © by Maarten van Hoek, based on a photograph posted on Facebook by Francisco Diaz Núñez from Pátapo-Chiclayo.


CMP-023: Boulder with one possible anthropo-zoomorph; an outlined triangle with a vertical groove, the whole looking like a spear; and near the top a complex set of curvilinear and straight lines. There are more very faint lines. Recorded by Francisco Diaz Núñez.

CMP-024: Several faint petroglyphs, possibly including an outlined quadruped and  some more unidentifiable images. The photograph may show only part of the petroglyph panel (recorded by Francisco Diaz Núñez).

CMP-025: Boulder or outcrop panel showing at least two anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures; a possible rake and several very faint images.

CMP-026: Boulder or outcrop panel above Panel CMP-025 showing a few very faint images and a set of curvilinear lines, the better visible right-hand part looking like a Formative Period mouth-symbol (Figure 20A), comparable with several similar petroglyphs in the north of Peru (Van Hoek 2011b: Figs 141 and 143).

Figure 20. Petroglyphs on (A) Boulder CMP-026 and (B) on Boulder CMP- 027. Sketches © by Maarten van Hoek, based on photographs posted on Facebook by Francisco Diaz Núñez from Pátapo-Chiclayo.


CMP-027: Boulder with a snake petroglyph having an outlined head with two eyes, as is seen from above (Figure 20B). The tail might end in a biforked element (but that part is very faint)

CMP-028: Outcrop panel (?) showing at least three anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures, two with a long tail.

CMP-029: Boulder with two decorated panels. Panel A shows a chaos of petroglyphs, including at least two anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures. This panel needs careful inspection. Panel B: The side panel shows a circular petroglyph enclosed by a very faint line and by a second better visible line, joined by some faint lines as well.

CMP-030: Boulder (or outcrop?) with many small panels distributed across the undulating surface of the stone. There are at least three anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures, and possibly one unfinished example. Recorded (at Cerro Mal paso?) by Francisco Diaz Núñez.

CMP-031: Long boulder with a large number of often very faint petroglyphs, including (at the right-hand end) a very faint square enclosing two or three circular elements and a line; several barely visible anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures and many other unidentifiable motifs. Dominating the centre of the panel is a distinct image of a fully pecked bird with circular head, triangular tail and triangular wings; the whole seen from above (see Figure 23D-inset). A smaller side-panel has at least one small ring mark and a larger, more massif circle.



Somewhere within the Estate of Chaparrí (which may also include the Cerro Mal Paso area) at least three other boulders with petroglyphs have been recorded. One small fragment (broken off by robbers?) may show an anthropomorphic figure. Another boulder (also a fragment?) seems to bear two anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures, while a large, long boulder has at least one clear image of an outlined quadruped (Figure 21). It has an elongated snout and a very long horizontally arranged tail, while its feet point in opposite directions. It also has four dots as internal decoration.

Figure 21. Petroglyph on a boulder at Chaparrí. Sketch © by Maarten van Hoek, based on photographs posted by Julio Reaño (internet).


The Anthropomorph-Zoomorph Issue

Up to June 2024 the rock art site of Cerro Mal Paso is thought to count about 30 boulders (or outcrop panels) with petroglyphs (disregarding the three Chaparrí boulders here). Cerro Mal Paso thus may be regarded to represent a “minor” rock art site of all sites in the Reque-Chancay Valley (only statistically speaking, of course), as nearby Huaca Blanca has 76 boulders with petroglyphs, while “neighbouring” Cerro Mulato has even about 570+ decorated boulders and outcrops. However, also regarding the diversity of rock art images, Cerro Mal Paso only offers a limited array of figures. Cerro Mulato has many specific petroglyphs that are absent at Cerro Mal Paso, like the triangles filled with dots, the so-called “Venus-Cross”, fish and feline images and the most important petroglyphs at Cerro Mulato depicting MSC-Style images from the Formative Period (Van Hoek 2011b: 147 and 159).

Yet, the imagery at Cerro Mal Paso is definitely related to the imagery at Cerro Mulato and to many other sites in the Reque-Chancay Basin. For instance, petroglyphs of squares; outlined crosses (not the “Venus-Cross”, though) and compositions of only dots have been recorded at both Cerro Mal Paso and Cerro Mulato. But the major link concerns the numerous petroglyphs at Cerro Mal Paso depicting anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figures. Such confusing petroglyphs also occur at Huaca Blanca (Figure 22C), Cerro Mulato (Figure 23A) and many other sites in the valley (Figure 22B). However, in one aspect Cerro Mal Paso is special, as it is the only site that I know of to have a relative overrepresentation of those confusing anthropomorph-zoomorphs (in absolute numbers; Cerro Mulato may have more examples [I did not count them]). Are those anthropomorph-zoomorphs anthropomorphs or lizards, or may they even depict bird-amalgamations? Unfortunately, even the following presentation will not be able to provide clear and unambiguous answers, only some tentative suggestions.

First of all it is important to know what a lizard looks like. Figure 22A shows the typical layout and attitude of a lizard, while sun-bathing on a rock surface. Especially the long tail (which is easily broken off!), the more or less triangular head and the four flexed legs, pointing in opposite directions (all showing long claws) are characteristic for a lizard. The drawing (Figure 22B) shows a collection of petroglyphs of anthropomorph-zoomorphs, three of them showing the lizard-like tail. However, Figure 22-2B (from La Cal) may depict a lizard with its tail broken off, although the stump may also represent a human phallus. Also notice its “fat belly” (the fat pads on both sides of the lizard’s body that can enlarge with increasing amounts of fat?). Petroglyphs B3 and B4 are even more confusing for having six legs (both from La Puntilla).

Finally, the petroglyph of a anthropomorph-zoomorph on Boulder HBL-068 at Huaca Blanca (Figure 22C) has a long body and tail, but also two fore limbs that – surprisingly – look like little triangles. This study also described a zoomorphic petroglyph with triangular appendages, but this time it concerned a bird image on Boulder CMP-031 at Cerro Mal Paso (Figure 23D-inset). Yet, there may be a link between lizards and birds. One possible link is found on Boulder CMp-321 at Cerro Mulato (Figure 23D).

Figure 22. A: Real-life lizard on a rock in the Chancay Basin. B: Collection of petroglyphs of anthropomorph-zoomorphs from the Reque-Chancay Basin. C: Anthropomorph-zoomorph petroglyph from Huaca Blanca. Photographs and drawings by Maarten van Hoek.

Figure 23. A: Real-life lizard on a rock at Cerro Mal Paso. B to D: Petroglyphs of lizards and/or anthropomorph-zoomorphs at Cerro Mulato. Photographs and drawing (Inset 23D: detail from Boulder CMp-031 at Cerro Mal Paso) © by Maarten van Hoek.

Cerro Mulato, a major rock art site with over 570 decorated boulders and most likely a tentatively guesstimated 3000+ individual petroglyphs, also has – in absolute terms – a large number of images depicting lizards and/or anthropomorph-zoomorphs. Figure 23B shows the petroglyph of what I consider a true representation of a lizard (the number of digits is irrelevant in this discussion). The two, parallel arranged anthropomorph-zoomorphs of Figure 23C may also be considered to represent lizards, albeit it with excessively long tails (an emission?).

The most confusing petroglyph in this row is the image of Figure 23D (note to its right the much fainter petroglyph with a slightly enlarged belly and with claws on all four legs). The clearly visible image shows a fully pecked anthropomorph-zoomorph with a (blurred, re-pecked?) triangular head and a long tail. Most striking however, are the “legs” that all four are formed by triangles and thus all four “legs” look like bird’s wings. See also Figure 25C: are those images lizards, or birds, or amalgamations between a lizard and a bird?

There are more petroglyphs of lizard-like images in the north of Peru that have bird-wing-like “legs”. For instance, on Boulder QU1-006 at Queneto in the Virú Drainage (further to the south) there is a complex lizard-like petroglyph with triangular wings, insect-like appendages from the head, apparently two long, parallel tails and a distinct diamond-shaped fat belly (Van Hoek 2018: Fig. 19). Is it a lizard, a bird or an insect, or an intentional amalgamation of all those zoomorphs? At nearby San Juan is Boulder JUA-032 with the petroglyph of a lizard-like image with  slightly enlarged belly. But more importantly, it has no long tail, but instead a fully pecked triangular appendage that looks like the tail of a bird (Figure 24B).

Also other rock art sites have petroglyphs of lizard-like images with either “fat bellies”, like the couple among a group of seven examples on Boulder TOL-003 at Tolón in the Jequetepeque Valley (Figures 24A and 24B). On nearby Panel TOL-004A are at least six petroglyphs of anthropomorph-zoomorphs, one having two front legs, no hind legs and a triangular tail instead. An image next to it has a long tail ending in a triangle (a bird’s wing?). It now seems that there is some kind of link between lizards and birds, and – because informed knowledge is completely absent – I can only think of one (subjective!) interpretation of that link.

Figure 24. A: Tolón Boulder TOL-003 (see also Figure 25A); B: San Juan Boulder JUA-032. Photographs © by Maarten van Hoek.

During our surveys we often saw life-lizards, especially in the arid coastal area of northern Peru. Not only at Cerro Mulato – a site with numerous exposed boulders (often overgrown after heavy rainfall) – but also at many other sites, lizards like to bask in the sun (their metabolism then decreases, causing their fat to accumulate on the sides of their bellies). But when feeling threatened lizards rapidly disappear into the many crevices between the boulders. In other words, they leave the Middle World (the realm of everyday reality) and enter the Lower World.

In contrast, a bird – when alarmed – will fly up into the skies and thus is leaving the Middle World and enters the Upper World. In Andean worldview, certain birds – especially raptors and condors – are considered to be messengers between the people living in the area and their ancestors, gods and deities residing in the Upper World (often on mountain tops). Especially at Cerro Mulato – and to lesser extent at several other rock art sites in the valley – petroglyphs of birds occur. A petroglyph of an anthropomorph-zoomorph on Boulder CMg-157 at Cerro Mulato even has outlined wings instead of arms (Van Hoek 2012a: 88). One lizard-like petroglyph on a boulder at the rock art site of Panamá in the Chicama Valley is possibly significant, because it is positioned very near a distinct bird with triangular wings and triangular tail (Figure 25B). Another boulder at Panamá has a similar bird petroglyph. Those bird petroglyphs may as well strengthen the suggested relationship between lizards and birds.

Is it now possible that the lizard-bird amalgamations of the Reque-Chancay Valley (and of other drainages) symbolises the capacity of the lizard-bird to enter all three realms? In view of the numerous petroglyphs of lizards, anthropomorph-zoomorphs and lizard-bird amalgamations in the Reque-Chancay Valley (and beyond), this is – in my opinion – a most plausible explanation.

However, as usual there are more possible explanations. One concerns the “fat-belly” phenomenon in lizards and lizard-like images. Although lizards are never pregnant, prehistoric people may have interpreted the “fat-belly” to symbolise human pregnancy, or perhaps fertility in general (a petroglyph on Boulder CMh-193 at Cerro Mulato may possibly depict a pregnant woman; see Van Hoek 2012b: 105; Fig. 231).

Figure 25. A: Tolón Boulder TOL-003 (Virú), see also Figure 24A; B: Panamá (Chicama): C: Cerro Mulato Boulder CMt-540; D: Cerro Mulato Boulder CMp-321 (Chancay). Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek, “B” based on a photograph by Fernando Vigo Quispe (Facebook).

Another explanation may also be linked to fertility, as several petroglyphs of lizards and lizard-like images have no or a very short tail or just a short line, although this may also concern instances of unfinished images, like the unfinished lizard petroglyph on Boulder CMg-158 at Cerro Mulato (Van Hoek 2012a: 89). A short or no tail may point to the ability of the lizard to lose its tail when it is grabbed. However, the tail will grow back after a short time. Prehistoric people may have been aware of this phenomenon and may have interpreted it as a sign of regeneration (like with seeds and plants). Again, without informed knowledge or any other proof we will never know.

Finally, this study demonstrates that – for some unknown reason – the Reque-Chancay Basin has an overkill of petroglyphs of lizards and lizard-like anthropomorph-zoomorphs, with the largest group of examples and the greatest number of different layouts occurring at Cerro Mulato, although in relative terms Cerro Mal Paso has the greatest number (of mainly very simple petroglyphs).



List of sites (most likely incomplete) where petroglyphs of lizards, anthropomorph-zoomorphs and lizard-bird-amalgamations have been recorded. In the Reque-Chancay Valley it concerns the following sites: Huaca Blanca; Raka Rumi; Cerro Mulato; Cerro Mal Paso; Cerro La Cal; Garraspiña; La Puntilla; Desaguadero; El Progreso.

Far more scarcely examples have been recorded in the Zaña Valley (Chumbenique); in the Jequetepeque Valley (Tolón [Figures 24A and 25A]; Yonán [also birds with triangular tail]; Quebrada del Felino); in the Chicama Valley (Cuculí; Panamá; Cerro el Diablo and Algarobbos at Chuquillanqui); in the Moche Valley (Lucumar); in the Virú Drainage (Queneto; Quebrada de San Juan [Figure 24B]; Mayasgo; Alto de la Guitarra; a rather complex example at Pampa de Leon); in the Chao Valley (Santa Rita); and finally in the Santa Drainage (Palamenco). Further south hardly any (convincing) example is known to me (neither to the north of the Reque-Chancay Basin).



This paper would never have been so complete without the help of two dedicated ‘Lambayequeans’: Ignacio Alva Meneses, a professional archaeologist operating mainly in Lambayeque and Francisco Gregorio Diaz Núñez, an energetic explorer from Pósope Alto, Pátapo. I would sincerely like to thank those two archaeologists for their kind assistance and especially for supplying me with specific information and photographic material – often from their private collections. Last but not least I would like to thank my wife Elles for her enthusiastic assistance while surveying Cerro Mal Paso (and many other sites in Lambayeque) and for her ongoing support at home.



Guffroy, J. 2009. Imagénes y paisajes rupestres del Perú. Editions IRD, Marseille, France. Universidad de San Martín de Porres, Lima, Perú.

Kutscher, G. 1963. Die Felsbilder des Cerro Mulato bei Chongoyape (Nord-Peru). Baessler-Archiv – Neue Folge. Vol. XI; pp. 31 – 64.

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.

Van Hoek, M. 2011a. Petroglyphs of Peru – Following the Footsteps of Antonio Núñez Jiménez. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. Book available as PDF only at ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2011b. The Chavín Controversy – Rock Art from the Andean Formative period. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. Available as PDF only at ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2012a. Cerro Mulato: Rock Art of the Reque-Chancay Drainage, Peru. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. Book available as PDF only at ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2012b. Rumimantam Llaqllasaq Wirpuykita: The ‘Cycle of Life’ in the Rock Art of the Desert Andes. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. Book available as PDF only at ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2018. The Huacapongo Corridor – Rock Art along a Prehistoric Coastal Route in the Desert Andes. Oisterwijk, Holland. Book available as PDF only at ResearchGate.

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