Mexican archaeologists have found what could be the earliest indigenous depictions of Spaniards in cave paintings located in the mountainous region of the state of Guerrero.
Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) date the discovery to a period soon after the Conquest of 1521.
The archaeologists first got notice of the cave paintings after being informed by inhabitants of Santa Cruz Lomalapa, a community in the municipality of Olinalá.
Evidence of activity dating back to pre-Hispanic times — from the year 200 to 650 and from 900 to 1521 — was also found.
The archaeologists believe the caves were used for rituals associated with the underworld, fertility and rain ceremonies during pre-Hispanic times,
In the early colonial period, the caves lost their religious association and were instead used for shelter and as hideouts by indigenous people fleeing forced labor to which they were subjected in nearby mines.
A first incursion into the five caves of the La Silla hill occurred last August when experts identified classical elements of Mesoamerican traditions mixed with foreign elements in the paintings, “a result of their interaction with European culture.”
Some of the characters found in the paintings wear the usual Spaniard garb of the 1500s, including a suit of armor and feathered helmets, and carry weapons including swords and firearms. Some are also riding animals that could be horses, donkeys or mules.
According to INAH experts, the depiction of Spaniards and European animals in the Guerrero caves resemble the style of paintings and codices from the same period of time.
Given the location and characteristics of the caves, the team of archaeologists was unable to explore them fully so a second visit is scheduled to take place shortly.
Source: Informador (sp)