Archaeological parks

In Bolivia there are four archaeological parks that have different kinds of rock art and are open to visitors:

Calacala, Dept. of Oruro: This site is situated near the village of Calacala , 25 km southeast of the city of Oruro . The guardian of the archaeological park lives in the village and must accompany tourists to open the gate of the fence protecting the rock art site. In a small cave and a rock shelter are paintings in red, white and black, as well as a few engravings. The principal motifs are domesticated camelids (llamas) apart from some felines and a few stylized human figures. SIARB constructed a visitors’ platform in front of the site allowing tourists to view the art without climbing the rock walls. An archaeological survey by Pilar Lima and three other archaeologists in the valley of Calacala revealed a continuous occupation since preceramic times, including a notable presence of people during the Inca period.

Rock art site at Calacala: cave and shelter. Photo: Matthias Strecker

Rock paintings at Calacala. Photo: Roland Félix.

View of the principal rock art site at Calacala. Photo: Freddy Taboada.

Intinkala and Orkojawira, Copacabana: In front of the village cemetery, two fenced-in areas contain sculptured rocks, possibly dating from Inca times. The larger precinct is called Intinkala (traditional Aymara name for “sun stone”). Another monument popular known as “Horca del Inca” (Inka gallows), but definitely a place for astronomical observations, is located on Kesanani (Seroqa) mountain, 600 meters south of Copacabana.

Location of Intinkala and Orkojawira in Copacabana. Plan by Javier Escalante (DINAR).

Sculptured rock at Intinkala, Copacabana. Photo: Matthias Strecker.

Monument called “Inka throne”, Intinkala, Copacabana. Photo: Matthias Strecker.

Artificial depression and channel in form of a serpent, Intinkala. Photo: M. Strecker.

Principal rock at Orkojawira, Copacabana. Photo: M. Strecker.

Inkamachay and Pumamachay, Dept. of Chuquisaca: A shelter and small cave in the Serranía de Chataquila. The visitor will have a 32 km drive on Sucre – Ravelo road as far as Chaunaca. From this point you have to walk on a path for about 7 km (2 hours). In 1958 Incamachay was declared a National Monument. More than forty years later, in 2002, the Municipality of Sucre constructed a wall around the rock shelter and a small house for a guardian to control visits to the site. In May 2004, a new phase of the project of an archaeological park began when the Municipality signed an agreement with SIARB to take steps to preserve the rock art of Incamachay and develop the site for tourism. In consequence, SIARB held a training course for the guardian and tourism guides, prepared a new register and photographic recording of the rock art and undertook initial conservation measures. Besides, a path for visitors of Incamachay was paved to avoid stirring up dust. Two information boxes with laminated sheets were installed. The cave of Pumamachay was closed by a fence allowing visits of small groups accompanied by the guardian. The new archaeological park (prepared by SIARB and the Municipality of SIARB ) was inaugurated on May 21, 2005 .

Detail of the rock paintings at Inkamachay. Photo: Velia Mendoza

Rock painting at Inkamachay. Photo: Matthias Strecker (1992).

Detail of the rock paintings at Inkamachay. Photo: Freddy Taboada.

The rock shelter of Incamachay is situated at an altitude of 3.510 m. It extends in south- north direction and is orientated towards the west. Its length is 47 m, with a width of 19 m and a height 5,70 m. The wall and the ceiling of the shelter are decorated with paintings in various colours and some engravings; also, on the ground floor there is a cupule (round artificial depression). There are about 150 rock art elements, most being paintings in white, red or in both colours. Sometimes the contour of a white figure was painted in red, or a red figure received a white outline. A few motifs were executed in green, blue, black or pink. Most of the motifs represent human figures, there are a few representations of animals and some geometric or abstract designs. Human figures are stylized and very simple, a dot stands for the head, two raised lines represent the arms. In one case, the figure stands on a sort of “pedestal”. A painting of a small archer with its bow and arrow falls out of this pattern and may belong to a different time period. The geometric and abstract designs consist of crosses (possibly prehispanic symbols), circles and rectangular forms with interior divisions. The visual impact of these paintings is impressive. Many visitors to Incamachay have been surprised by the brightness of its rock paintings. Edmundo Salinas (2001) explains that this is due to the fact that the interior of the shelter does not receive direct sun light and remains dry throughout the whole year.

The small cave of Pumamachay is situated in the immediate surroundings of Incamachay. The decoration of the cave falls into two categories: geometric designs (spirals, circular forms and other lines) and “biomorphs” (animal figures and one anthropomorph). An approximate dating is possible based on comparison with ceramic motifs. Edmundo Salinas (2000: 33) noted a surprising similarity between a motif in Pumamachay and a black element painted on a vessel of the Huruquilla culture and believes that the rock art of the cave could have a maximum age of 1.000 years. Huruquilla ceramics are characterized by intricate decorations which consist of geometric designs (spiral compounds, circular and oval forms, triangles and crosses). Recent investigations have revealed an even earlier date for the origin of this pottery style, which is found already in sites belonging to the periods known as Tiwanaku Early IV (400-600 AD) and Early V (800-1000 AD), according to the archaeologists Patrice Lecoq and Ricardo Céspedes (1997: 245).

Samaipata , Dept. of Santa Cruz: An enormous sculptured rock, called El Fuerte, is situated 5 km from Samaipata. Its numerous engravings, niches, channels, etc. can be observed from a boardway which has been constructed round the rock. Remains of pre-Inca, Inca and Colonial buildings are also found at the site which has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO.

Plan of the archaeological site at Samaipata (P.I.A.S.)

View of the sculptured rock at Samaipata. Photo: P.I.A.S. 1992

Rock sculpture representing feline. Photo: J. Welk.

Plan of the sculptured rock at Samaipata (P.I.A.S.).