Research of cave paintings on an isolated Caribbean island

Researching cave paintings on an isolated Caribbean island

On the walls of caves on the uninhabited island of Mona in the Caribbean, researchers have discovered thousands of paintings and engraved geometric symbols. The cave artworks were created by a lost civilization that once inhabited the islands.

The island of Mona lies in the Greater Antilles and belongs to Puerto Rico. Its surface area is 57 kilometersóin square. The island is currently uninhabited and the entire area is a nature reserve. It has a vast network of underground caves and corridors in which theórych found thousands of engraved or painted symbols and likenesses of animals and people. Someóre of them are a few meters eachóin the breadth of.

Today, only archaeologist can be found on the islandóin and employeeóon the reservation, but Mona was once inhabited by Indians of the Arawak tribeów and Tainów. This was mentioned by Christopher Columbus in his account of the 1494 expedition. Thanks to this expedition, the island was mapped by Spanish colonizersów, which was the beginning of the end of indigenous culture.

Researchers from the University of Leicester, along with Puerto Rican colleagues, have been studying pre-Columbian artworks since 2013. Of the more than 200 caves discovered, archaeologists have examined about 70. For the study they used the m.In. X-ray apparatus to carefully analyze the paintings.

– For indigenous peoplesóInhabiting the Caribbean before the arrival of EuropeansóIn the caves were a kind of portal, a passage to the spiritual world – said Jago Cooper of the British Museum in London. – Therefore, it is believed that the paintings depict the essence of the beliefs of the indigenous inhabitants of theów and the basis of their cultural identity – added.

According to researchers, indigenous people believed that the sun and moon emerged from under the Earth, so exploring underground caves was considered a spiritual ritual.

The paintings depict animals, faces in headgear, human figures, human-animal hybrids or rógeometric figures. Scientists say most of it was scraped on the walls with simple tools. Some of it was painted using paints with rótion depending on the cave. After a detailedół analysis in the paint formulation found charcoal, a material from róof various plants, bat droppings and minerals such as iron. Archaeologists have ruled that the drawings were probably prepared in advance, before being applied or carved into the cave wall.

Photo. University of Leicester

Fot. University of Leicester

Photo. Journal of Archaeological Science

– Most of the pictogramów are found in very narrow passageways deep inside caves. Someóre of them are very difficult to access – you have to crawl to reach them. The drawings are very extensive. It’s an unusual sight – admitted Victor Serrano of the University of Leicester.

The island is located on the Atlantic route, whichóry once led from Europe to the Americas. Population of residentsóIn the island was wiped out by diseases brought by the Europeanów. Some of the population was probably also enslaved or killed, so analyzing the cave paintings on Mona Island is the only way to find out who the indigenous people were and how they lived.

Known to be particularlyólnie the thorough elimination of local culture and beliefs were the Spanish. This is evidenced by Christian symbols and Spanish names carved next to Pre-Columbian paintings. In someóLatin inscriptions and dates pointing to the mid-16th century were also found in the caves.

Thanks to the unique environment of the caves, the cave art is very well preserved and scientists can gain new insights into the lifestyle of a lost culture.

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