Scientists have unearthed thousands of ancient rock art paintings on the walls of caves and ravines in northeastern Mexico, depicting everything from images of humans and animals to astronomical charts.
Nearly 5,000 of these rock art paintings were discovered in 11 sites throughout the region in 2006, and researchers just began to fully study them two years ago. Their findings were recently presented at the Second Conference of Archaeological History in Mexico City.
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Archaeologists say the rock art provides an inside look into how the natives lived around the Sierra de San Carlos, a mountain range in Mexico's state of Tamaulipas, during the time before Spanish rule. Using red, yellow, black, and white pigments, nomads drew pictures of what appear to be deer, lizards, and centipedes, as well as humans fishing and hunting.
The findings document the presence of pre-Hispanic groups, "where before it was said that there was nothing, when in fact it was inhabited by one or more cultures," archaeologist Gustavo Ramirez, of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History, said in a statement.
Researchers have not yet been able to precisely date the paintings but further testing on samples of the pigments could reveal the age of the rock art.
"We have not found any ancient objects linked to the context, and because the paintings are on ravine walls and in the rainy season the sediments are washed away, all we have is gravel," Ramirez said.
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