Documenting pre-hispanic inscriptions from the Samaná-Río Claro Karst Formations

  • Investment
  • Year
  • Project coordinator
    Justo Arosemena Schnitter, Fundacíon Amazonas
  • Collaborators
    Whiting Foundation


Fundación Amazonas documented five unique archaeological sites in the Samaná-Río Claro Karst Formations. The sites contain pictographs (drawn) and petroglyphs (carved) inscribed in caverns and rock shelters, with great historical, cultural and aesthetic value: the Abrigo El Petroglifo, El Prodigio (San Luis); Abrigo El Tigre, El Prodigio (San Luis); Caverna del Indio, Jerusalén (Sonsón); Caverna La Gruta, La Danta (Sonsón); Caverna Caimán, La Danta (Sonsón). Although the exact meaning of these inscriptions remains a question, they tell the story of the life, occupation, communication, language and symbolic systems of indigenous communities that have lived in the region up to 8.000 years ago.

Being located in and on the parameters or active mining fronts, these rare sites will be inevitably lost within the near future. Because of their remote location and previous inaccessibility, the sites are not well researched nor documented, and remain rather unknown. To prevent the inscriptions from being lost forever, an interdisciplinary team of experts used high resolution photogrammetry, drone images, and other advanced technologies to extensively document the sites and their surroundings. Afterwards, the result was be disseminated the captured information through the creation of an online publically accessible virtual museum and research archive, and the dissemination of educational kits in local public schools.