Archaeologists Discover Several Thousand Ancient Cave Paintings In Mexico

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Archaeologists have discovered several thousand paintings in caves and ravines of the Sierra de San Carlos, Municipality of Burgos, Tamaulipas. The 4,926 paintings found were made by at least three groups of hunter-gatherers in the region. The paintings are anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, astronomical and abstract.

Archaeologist Gustavo Ramirez, who led the team, said the paintings are important because it documents the presence of pre-Hispanic groups in Burgos, where before it was said that there was nothing living there.

Ramirez said the team still needs to analyze the cultural component of the paintings. In the Indian Cave the team found depictions of weapons used for hunting, which have not been found in the rock art at Tamaulipas.

Gustavo said the images offer up a look at nomadic activities focused on hunting, fishing and gathering. Some of the images also hint at the culture practicing religion and understanding astronomy. Other images represent the vegetation in the region, as well as some animals such as deer and lizards.

“First, the site is identified, then limited by panels are divided into sets and finally recorded the figures. Most of these paintings have an amazing degree of conservation,” Ramirez said in a statement.

He said the nomadic groups used colors such as yellow, red, white and black. They were able to create these colors using organic dyes and materials. The team will need to perform a chemical study to determine the precise components of the colors. Ramirez said sampling these pigments would allow the team to approximate ratings through chemical analysis or radiocarbon.

Archaeologist Martha Garcia said they researched archives, chronicles and reports from colonial time to try and identify the potential authors of the cave paintings. However, they found “no records of these nomadic groups.” She added that groups that inhabited the mountains in this region are only known by the nicknames they were given by the conquistadors, friars and other Indians who accompanied them.

“These groups escaped the Spanish rule for 200 years because they fled to the Sierra de San Carlos where they had water, plants and animals to feed themselves,” she told BBC.

A team of international researchers who investigated about 50 cave paintings in 11 different caves in northern Spain said last year that the art could have started as early as 40,000 years ago, making Neanderthals the first possible cave painters. They found the oldest of the paintings was at least 40,800 years old.

Images Below: The archaeologist Martha Garcia Sanchez announced this research during the Second Colloquium of Historical Archeology. The images suggest that the activities of the nomadic focused on hunting, fishing and gathering. Credit: Mexican National Institute of Anthropology (NIAH)

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