Scientists on the Island of Mona, Puerto Rico have made a startling discovery. Now the home of an uninhabited nature reserve, researchers have reportedly found cave paintings from a civilization that dates back to the 14th century – before the arrival of Columbus.
Known as the Tainos, these peoples left art and carvings that have so far been found in 70 of the caves on the island. The images they left depict both human and animal faces, as well as a number of abstract patterns. Scientists are currently continuing to comb the island, as many of the caves have yet to be fully explored.
Releasing a statement, research member Victor Serrano said that “most of the precolonial pictographs are in very narrow spaces deep in the caves, some are very hard to access, you have to crawl to get to them, they are very extensive and humidity is very high but it is extremely rewarding.” As researchers continue to gain access to these caves, there’s a chance we’ll continue to learn more about these long-dead people.
A team from the University of Leicester originally worked from 2013 to 2016 and used carbon and uranium-thorium dating tools to narrow down when exactly the images were left. Dating as far back as 800 years ago, the images were constructed through various means. Some were made by removing the soft outer layer of rock, while others used guano, plant resin, and charcoal to paint.
The Tainos were eventually wiped out by the war, disease, and famine brought on by the Spanish colonization. However, these carvings and cave paintings preserve their legacy and allow us a glimpse into what was once a civilization that spanned Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico.
Images: University of Leicester
Source: University of Leicester