Patterns of Style, Diversity, and Similarity in Middle Orinoco Rock Art Assemblages
Authors: Riris, P. and Oliver, J.
Editors: Bednarik, R.
The area encompassed by the Orinoco river basin is home to some of the largest and most diverse rock art sites in lowland South America. In this paper, we aim to formally describe the spatial distribution and stylistic attributes of rock engravings and paintings on both banks of the Orinoco, centred on the Átures Rapids. Drawing on an exhaustive literature review and four years of field survey, we identify salient aspects of this corpus by investigating patterns of diversity and similarity. Based on a stylistic classification of Middle Orinoco rock art, this permits us to discuss potential links, as well as notable discontinuities, within the assemblage and possibly further afield. We consider the theoretical implications of our work for the study of pre-Columbian art and conclude with some suggestions for advances in methods for achieving the goal of deriving broader syntheses.