Scientists Uncover a Treasure Trove of Primitive Cave Art

Scientists have discovered thousands of primitive rock and cave paintings on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean.

Isla de la Mona is the third-largest island in Puerto Rico.  The 22-square-mile island contains some 200 caves.  Researchers have now discovered an impressive and diverse collection of primitive art that has been drawn, painted and scratched into the cave walls.  Subjects include human faces and bodies, animals and geometric motifs.  The art has been dated to the 13th century and attributed to the Taino culture.

An Agilent GC, MSD and column enabled scientists to analyze paint samples no larger than 2 cubic millimeters.  They were able to identify the different types of charcoals and pigments used.  They also found that the Tainos did not use typical binding media such as eggs, blood or plant-derived oils.

This discovery provides historians with an invaluable glimpse into the culture of the region’s indigenous people, before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and other European explorers.

Images by Serge Aucoin via Wikimedia Commons

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