El Corazón del Caribe research project

Principle investigators


Collaborative Partners



  • British Academy
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • British Cave Research Association
  • NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory
  • Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit
  • Herb Allen III and Monica de la Torre
  • Daniel Shelley
  • British Airways

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Rock art discovered on Mona island

  • Galleried cave chambers

    The pre-Columbian iconography found in many of these cave systems extends through galleried chambers covering large portions of the walls and ceilings.

  • Finger incised patterns

    As well as clear figurative art there are also large finger incised patterns extending for metres through different cave alcoves.

  • Stalagmite growth

    Some of the finger incised designs have stalagmite growth over them providing a potential source of dating. These stalagmites can provide a date before which this rock art must have been made.

  • Pictographs

    Pictographs like this one are painted onto the cave wall using a pigment that appears to be made of a charcoal admixture.

  • Stylised face

    Stylised faces are a common feature of the iconography with certain forms like this one repeated consistently in different cave systems

  • Guabancex

    This figure with the swirling arms represents Guabancex, the pre-Columbian deity associated with the destructive force of the hurricane.

  • Figure

    This figure is identical to the famous Puerto Rican Sol de Jayuya rock art image found in central Puerto Rico.

  • Figure

    This figure is drawn upside down indicating a link to bat imagery yet with a leg style associated with frogs. This form of transformative art combining zoomorphic and anthropomorphic traits is common in the pre-Columbian Caribbean.

  • Continuous artistic stroke

    Many of these images require a skilful continuous artistic stroke of finger incision drawn across the cave ceiling over many metres.

  • Face

    This image of the frowning and contorted face hints at the commonly identified pre-Columbian use of these caves as locations for the taking of hallucigens.