Archeology X-Files

Over 150 Mysterious Rock Art Paintings in Chile Were Identified By Archaeologists

These incredible designs, created between 2000 BC and 500 AD believed to have been used by our ancestors to mark territory.

For the past five years researchers have been analysing a series of rock art findings in north-central Chile’s Limari Valley. The experts involved argue that discovering traces of this type of visual language, created thousands of years ago by inhabitants of Latin America has been extremely complex. Regrettably, due to the passage of time and weather conditions affecting the area, the ancient paintings are highly deteriorated and are nearly impossible to identify with the naked eye.

But with the help of digital technology including high-resolution cameras, tablets and specialised software, researchers have been able to detect the presence of paintings that time and erosion have almost erased.

The team of Chilean anthropologists and archaeologists found more than 150 paintings. They were probably created by hunter-gatherers between 2000 BC and 500 AD in the Coquimbo Region, an area south of the Atacama Desert that extends to about 400 kilometers north of the Chilean capital, Santiago.

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Over 150 pieces of rock art –created by hunter-gatherers between 2000 B.C. and 500 A.D.— have been found by the team of Chilean anthropologists and archaeologists. The area where the rock art was found is a vast area located some 400 kilometers from Santiago de Chile, south to the arid Atacama desert.

The study leader Andres Troncoso, an archaeologist at the University of Chile explains that photos were taking of the target rocks were analysed with DStretch software which detects colours and patterns difficult to observe with the naked eye. “This program has algorithms predefined for working with rock art,” he said. 

The newly discovered paintings consist mainly of lines, circles and squares of different colours. It is believed that the pigments were derived from locally available minerals, probably combined with animal fat. It remains unclear what tools were used to create their art. According to Troncoso the painters could have used brushes, fingers or a combination of both. But there is more certainty about the materials they used for each colour: Red was made with hematite, green with copper, yellow with goethite and black with coal.

Researchers confirmed that discovery of the paintings provides for now at least a little more of a glimpse into the visual language used by the pre-Hispanic inhabitants in this part of Latin America.



featured image © Andres Troncoso

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