Petroglyphs

of Toro Muerto

Thanks to the intensive prospecting works carried out in Toro Muerto since 2015, almost 2,600 carved boulders have been registered at this site. Among them are both small rocks decorated with only one relatively simple and isolated petroglyph and large blocks that are covered with engraved representations on all sides.


The concentration of rocks with petroglyphs in this complex is not uniform. Although the area protected by the Ministry of Culture covers almost 50 sq km, its most important sectors are in the central part of the site with an area of about 10 sq km.
 

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The search for bibliographic information on the projects carried out in Toro Muerto has resulted in a list of discoveries in museums, such as the discovery of cultural materials originating from the project of the French Archaeological Mission led on this site by Henry Reichlen in 1965.

 Among the artifacts collected by his team on the surface one can find lithic tools at least some of which may have been used to produce petroglyphs. This material and its photos are currently in the collection of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris and in Deposit ‘G’ of the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru in Lima.

The petroglyphs of Toro Muerto have been made by using various techniques, the percussion technique being the most popular one. Judging by the precision with which some figures were executed, it can be proved that percussion was used there with the help of two instruments (similar to the chisel and hammer technique).

 It is likely that in some cases the rock surface, following the creation of a petroglyph, underwent an abrasive treatment. Some of the finest images were executed using the scratching technique.

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Iconography

A detailed analysis of the Toro Muerto petroglyphs has allowed us to identify the most frequent motifs that are represented on the site. First of all, we can state that the majority of the recorded boulders contain zoomorphic and geometrical depictions. Somewhat less frequent are different anthropomorphic representations.

In the case of geometric motifs, the most common ones are vertical lines of various widths, zigzags and zigzags with points, ovals and ovals with rays, meanders, crosses, and rectangles. There are also several unique motifs typical of the iconography of this site.

 

Among the zoomorphic images, the most common ones are the representations of Andean camelids and several species of birds. Then, there are the representations of felines, foxes and snakes. The images of arachnids, amphibians and fish are the rarest. There are no realistic representations of plants.

 

Of the anthropomorphic figures, the most frequent ones are the representations of the so-called 'dancers' ('danzantes'), but other types of characters can also be found.

 Geometric motifs
 

Zoomorphic motifs
 

Anthropomorphic motifs
 

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