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Isla de Mona’s Treasure Trove of Taino Artwork

Monday, October 30, 2017

Taino rock artLEICESTER, ENGLAND—Thousands of Taino drawings and paintings have been discovered on the remote, uninhabited Caribbean island of Mona, according to a report in The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer. Archaeologists from the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico, the University of Leicester, the University of Cambridge, and the British Museum found the drawings spread over 30 of the island’s caves, and there are more than 100 caves still to be investigated. Initial tests suggest most of the rock art, which depicts combinations of animal and human faces, and geometric and curvilinear patterns, dates to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Some of the images were painted with bat guano that had absorbed naturally occurring yellow, brown, and red mineral pigments from the caves’ floors. Plant resin was sometimes added to the mixture to help it adhere to cave walls. Most of the images were created by dragging bare fingers across the layer of corroded calcite on the cave walls to expose the lighter-colored solid rock beneath it. Scholars think the island may have been the site of ceremonial rituals that were perhaps fueled by hallucinogens, as described by a sixteenth-century Spanish observer. To read more about the artwork on Mona Island, go to "Spiritual Meeting Ground."

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