Direction Archaeological, photographic and topographic recording 3D-modeling
Thanks to an exceptionally low level of the Cocibolca Lake waters, 118 rock engravings were studied in detail. At least 260 different petroglyphs were identified. Both the disparity and the amount of these motifs make La Tijereta Site the main rock art site of Ometepe Island, or even of all Nicaragua. The depicted motifs and the techniques vary very little. It suggests that these rocks were carved over a relatively short period, perhaps little more than a generation. The most frequently represented subject is the male anthropomorph. Circular, square, triangular or oval anthropomorphic masks are also common, as are concentric spirals and circles.
This preliminary study highlights several salient elements:
– the recurrence of mythological and/or divine elements such as the sun and gold;
– the frequency of characters wearing specific ornaments and hairstyles;
– the possible identification of several animals traditionally venerated in the region: monkey, lizard, deer…;
– the preference for the western face of the rocks to make the engravings;
– a privileged link uniting the site to the nearby volcano.
These elements lead us to restituate a ritual function to the site in a cult rendered to the deities-men. It could also have had a signal function for the inhabitants who navigated on the waters of the lake.
In the current state of knowledge, this huge rock setting remains unparalleled. It is therefore difficult to link it to a specific culture. Nevertheless, we propose to attribute it to the ancestors of the Guatusos who, according to R. Navarro-Genie, lived in this territory. This proposal is based on the fact that the iconography is very different from that which decorates the ceramics of the Chorotegas or Nahuas, i.e. the populations who occupied the site after the disappearance of the Guatusos. The site would thus be pre-Chorotega and correspond to the periods Tempisque (300 BC-300 AD) and/or Bagaces (300-800 AD) in the chronology of the Pacific area of Nicaragua. One could add that the ceramic of a neighboring site (El Guineo, Ome 22) also belongs to this period.
Anyhow, these chronological relationships should be corroborated by the expansion of archaeological research in the immediate vicinity of the site.
Finally, the extreme fragility of this major Central American rock art site must also be noted: it has been observed that 78% of the rocks showing petroglyphs are at risk of being altered and eroded by fluctuations in the lake water level.