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  • Palaeolithic : Cave Paintings



    Until quite recently Both Americas were considered to have no prehistoric art monuments dated earlier than the Neolithic and Bronze age. During last years, however, there came some publications, asserting that some paintings and petroglyphs, situates not far from Sao Raimundo Nonatu village, in the south-east of Piaui state are dated by the period, synchronous to the European Upper Palaeolithic. The local population knew them long ago but nobody knew their real age. In 1963 The mayor of Sao Raimundo Nonatu visited the university museum of Sant-Paulo and, seeing the exhibition, devoted to the archaeology of Brazil, told the director of the museum that there are different depictions on some rocks in his places, and even showed some photos. The first expedition took place in 1970. It turned out that in the north-east of Brazil near Sao Raimundu Nonatu and in the distance from it, on the area of 40000 km a large number of pre-historic art monuments, representing both paintings and drawings, is concentrated. Paintings are at the foots of shore vertical rocks and on the slopes of valleys, in caves. Engraved depictions are more often seen on separate rocks at the cave entrances. Some accumulations consist of more than thousand depictions but the majority include from 10 to 100 figures. These are mostly anthropomorphic depictions. People are represented in motion, some figures can compose very dynamic compositions although their interpretation is rather difficult.

    Archaeological excavations helped to establish chronology of settling of this territory and development of ancient art. The most ancient period -Pedra Furada is divided into four successive phases. By the period of Furada I (about 46000 BC) the existence of art is supposed because in the dated archaeological layers fragments of the rock with dye marks were found. Depictions appear only at the final stage (Pedra Furada IV, about 15000 BC). At the end of the Pleistocene or at the beginning of the Holocene (between 8000 and 7000 BC) in the region of Sao Raimundo Nonatu different ancient tribes were changing. Pedra Furada culture was changed by Serra Talhada culture. The artistic tradition Nordeste appears, with the most ancient style Serra da Capivara. Depictions of Agrest culture are also met here during the same epoch. By 3000 BC Nordeste tradition vanishes completely and by 2000 BC the time of Agrest culture comes.

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