Now, to the point of this post: a much delayed description of the petroglyphs at Piedras Pintadas.
Near the end of our last field season, Jorge Zambrana very kindly took us up to Somoto to see the Cañon de Somoto and the petroglyphs at Piedras Pintadas. Somoto itself is a lovely old town in the highlands, cool, picturesque, and pacific. (Most of the photos in this post were taken by Kelsey Willis.)
|Somoto in the northern highlands|
|Colonial church in Somoto during Sunday mass|
The first day, we visited the museum and took photos of some of the pieces in municipal museum. They have some interesting artifacts, including Ulua Polychrome, Campana Fine Line Polychrome, Usulutan ware, Segovias fine supports, and an Ulua-style marble vase.
In the evening, we drove to the Parque Ecológico Municipal Piedras Pintadas in Icalupe. It's a huge doline or perhaps an uvala high in the pine-clad hills. On one sheer wall, where is slightly undercut, there is a whole field of petroglyphs, in many places daubed with red and blue paint.
|Pine-clad hills around Piedras Pintadas|
|First view into the doline where the petroglyphs are located|
|The limestone strata are clearly visible|
|The first petroglyphs you see as you come down the path|
|The red paint is noteworthy in this section|
|And yet more...|
|I like the blue wading bird|
|Do you see the crab?|
Very interesting petroglyphs. There have been some studies of the iconography, but I doubt the subject has been exhausted.
There are some artifacts scattered about. We saw a couple of sherds of Segovias.
Deymins, the archaeologist who acted as our guide and who knows the site well, told me there are caves about, including at least one in the park.
The next day we went to the Cañon de Somoto. It was indescribably beautiful, but we have no pictures because we couldn't carry them in the inner tubes. It is truly spectacular and merits a visit.
Later in the day, Deymins took us to another petroglyph site near Somoto. The first set of carvings occur in a small rock shelter formed by a group of fallen boulders. I don't remember the name of the site, and I apparently did not write it down.
|Petroglyphs in rock shelter near Somoto|
|Another petroglyph at the entrance to the rockshelter|
We visited one more set of petroglyphs nearby and went back to Somoto. If you look on a map, you can see that the northern Chinandega borders of the Department of Madriz, where Somoto is located. In fact, the town of Somoto is located only 27 kilometers from the Chinandega border, but since there is no road that way, you have to go east at least as far as Leon and the north, all of which takes many hours.
The visit was truly lovely and unforgettable. The area will well reward a visit by anyone who enjoys a beautiful landscape or archaeological remains.