Venezuelan rock art mapped in high detail

Rockart galleries in the Raudales de Atures area of Amazonas state in Venezuela have been photographed with application of drone technology to produce high resolution images of art located in highly inaccessible areas.

Venezuelan rockart (by Philip Riris)

The research was carried out by Philip Riris, as part of the Cotúa Island-Orinoco Reflexive Archaeology Project, who took advantage of the historically low water levels in the Orinoco River at the time. The petroglyphs located in the area are thought to be up to 2000 years old.  They depict animals, humans , symbols, and cultural rituals. One panel covers an area of 304 square metres containing at least 93 individual engravings, the largest of which measure several metres across. In one panel surveyed, a motif of a flautist surrounded by other human figures probably depicts part of an indigenous rite of renewal. Another engraving of a horned snake measures more than 30 metres in length. According to the researchers rock engravings of the Middle Orinoco River have been studied before, but never in this level of detail. They state that mapping the rock engravings represents a major step towards an enhanced understanding of the role of the Orinoco River in mediating the formation of pre-Conquest social networks throughout northern South America.

(after Philip Riris & EurekAlert!)

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