By John Robinson
My trip with Brazilian Research Archaeologist Keler Lucas to see the unbelievably sophisticated Petroglyphs on the Island of Campeche turned out to be one of the great Artistic adventures of my life. The Petroglyphs of Campeche are truly wonderful works of Art. Who were the people who executed these extraordinary relief carvings, and when? In all probability these questions will never be solved as the passage of time has buried the answers.
As part of the Bradshaw Foundation expedition to view the rock art of Santa Catarina, I was able to visit the Island of Arvoredo. Like the Island of Campeche in that its coastline is a barrier of pink granite boulders, it is covered in a similar dense tropical vegetation, but it is twice the size, and has no welcoming beach. This means that the island is seldom visited.
Keler Lucas organised a Scuba Dive vessel for the hour long journey out to the northern end of the island. The boat moored about 100 yards off shore as a 4 foot high swell was running. We transferred to an outboard driven inflatable dinghy, and the captain ferried us to within 20 feet of the island. Keler jumped in with a rope around his waist and swam towards the formidable shoreline. The swell washed him up against the great rounded rocks, and then sucked him off again. The landing looked impossible, but on the third attempt he managed to scramble up free of the sea.
The captain put out a stern anchor to hold the dinghy in position, enabling Keler to pull the bow up to the rocks with the outboard going in reverse. As a wave rose, Keler pulled, I jumped, and the boat quickly backed off so that it wouldn't be caught on an angle and tipped over. Was getting back on board going to be so easy?
Like Campeche Island, Arvoredo has several important works of rock art, notably The Great Panel of Arvorado, a complex panel of made up circles, dots, lines and manikin like figures, that must rank as one of the most petrogylphs on Santa Catarina. I was also able to see the Arvoredo Mask, a particularly fine example in terms of size and detail.
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