The Rock Art of the Corinto Cave - El Salvador

GRUTA DEL ESPIRITU SANTO - THE MORAZAN DISTRICT OF EL SALVADOR

 
 
The Bradshaw Foundation was contacted in 2002 by Dr. Roberto Ticas of El Salvador, who wished to discuss the options for preservation and protection of the rock art of Corinto Cave. This was to be carried out under the auspices of Concultura [National Council of Culture & Art, based at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia Dr David J Guzman in San Salvador] with the archaeologist Marlon Escamilla.
 
Corinto Cave, located in the Lomas de Zuncuyo mountains of the eastern Morazan Department, is one of the principle rock art sites in Central America, and has been designated as a National Monument. The cave is located approximately 2kms north of the small market town of Corinto. The volcanic landscape is heavily forested. The cave is approximately 60m wide, 30m in height and 20m deep.
 
El Salvador Corinto Town
Corinto Town
El Salvador Corinto Market Town
Corinto Market Town
 
There are roughly 200 pictographs in the cave. The colours are red, ochre, black, green, yellow and white. The motifs are composed of figures and symbols. The human and animal motifs appear in a variety of poses. Some of the figures appear to wear plumed feather head-dresses. Two of the figures share a noticeable and characteristic elongated/curved left wrist.
 
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Two snakes or zig-zag symbols
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Two human figures
 
There are several hand stencils, using a white pigment as the background. The symbols vary in design. Some share a linear and right-angled appearance. There is an example of a perfect rectangle. Other symbols are curvilinear, with an example of a vulva motif. The pictographs show a variety of styles, which appear to be grouped in distinct 'galleries'.
 
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave bradshaw foundation El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave bradshaw foundation El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Ostrich-like figure Crayfish-like figure Hand motif
 
There is some degree of superimposition of paintings. The size of the paintings varies: the figures are roughly 30 cms in height, although some are up to 100 cms. The symbols vary from roughly 4 cms to 50 cms in height. The general appearance of the paintings is faded. Some sections of the cave have been covered by concretions caused by water seepage, which has led to the complete and partial covering of some of the pictographs.
 
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Turtle figure
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Vulva motif
 
The dating of the pictographs has not been confirmed, although it has been suggested that the rock art belongs to the 'Recent Classic' - 600 to 900 AD [Perrot-Minnot 2007]. Further archaeological analysis of the cave and the surrounding area will add more information to not only the dating of the rock art but the occupancy of the site within a prehistoric and PreColumbian context.
 
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Human figure with staff or spear
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Hand motif
 
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Dolmen
El Salvador Rock Art Corinto Cave
Cupules
 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK

 
El Salvador Rock Art
Rock hole in cliff
The Corinto Cave lies on the northern edge of a considerable volcanic conglomerate and tufa outcrop. The outcrop and its surroundings represent an area of archaeological and anthropological interest, hence Concultura's desire to develop it as a 'cultural centre'.
 
Two separate large holes have been created [or enhanced] in the overhanging cliff, suggesting the possible use for astrological purposes. There are standing stones with cupules and what appears to be a dolmen, remnants of an extinct lake/river system. An ancient Spanish road traverses the outcrop leaving deep cartwheel parallel tracks indicating travel and trade with Honduras to the north.
 
El Salvador Deep Cartwheel Parallel Tracks Corinto
Surrounding Area
El Salvador Deep Cartwheel Parallel Tracks Corinto
Deep Cartwheel Parallel Tracks
 
Exploring the area further, we visited an isolated petroglyph site located near the Honduras border, deep in the Baja Profundo jungle. Accessible only by foot, this site contains numerous distinct petroglyphs of figures and symbols, measuring from 5 cm to 25 cm in height. The site occupies one very large outcrop but may be more extensive subject to further investigation.
 
Also in the Baja Profundo another site, located at the base of a 100m volcanic cliff, contains two distinct styles and phases, the earlier of which resembles the rock art in the Corinto Cave. The later stage is represented by larger and fresher images with clear Mayan influence. The rock face at the site is deteriorating considerably.
 

PRESERVATION & PROTECTION

 
Further analysis and documentation - the Corinto Cave rock art site is extensive and must have complete systematic research and documentation. To date, there has occurred some tracing of some of the art, but new documentation should perhaps concentrate on digital imaging and enhancement. This should be consolidated by the mapping of the cave and the surrounding area.
 
Carbon Dating - in order to establish a time scale, dating of the rock art is essential. AMS carbon dating should be possible with the charcoal figures [it is necessary to have half a milligram of pure charcoal]. The samples [minimum of 2] should be 'blind'. Archaeological excavation should take place in the cave to cross-reference the dating. However, previous studies [not excavations] suggest that the water seepage may have distorted the underlying stratigraphy, thus invalidating any results.
 
Site deterioration - the site must be prevented from further deterioration, primarily by water seepage. There are two suggestions: tree planting above the cave [eucalyptus] and water diversion. However, there are precedents of problems with sudden environmental changes, such as the reduction or removal of moisture from the rock surface, resulting in subsidence and collapse. If there is seepage and water running, the water can be diverted by using elastomers to make derivations or false stalactites as has been done in the Niaux Cave, France.
 
Protection, Management & Presentation - the rock art requires proximity for viewing. Some form of restricted walkway would allow for protection but enable presentation. The information could be provided by both written and digital means.
 
Bradshaw Foundation
 
 
bradshaw foundation donate help
Mailing List

Email Sign-Up
website updates

Email

First Name

Last Name

Country

Travel
Podcast
bradshaw foundation podcast
DVD
bradshaw foundation ishop dvd
Sponsored Links
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes List of Research Papers Other Websites Contact the Foundation