From when, by whom?

Discussions of ancient petroglyphs and related items ...

From when, by whom?

Post Number:#1  Postby Whyte Eagle » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:01 pm

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From when, by whom?
article and photos by Eric Jackson

Certain small remnants of the ancient Coclean culture have endured, mostly in forms that proved useful to the Spanish conquerors who destroyed it, but the language and its oral history have been lost. So, too, has the precise meaning of these petroglyphs, carved on a large boulder in Cocle province's town of El Valle de Anton.

Because the figure at the top right of the photo above appears to be the head of a horse, it is presumed by many that these drawings date back to just after the Spaniards arrived, early in the 15th century. Now, however, there are arguments presented, with certain scintillas of evidence, that in the early 1420s elements of the Chinese treasure fleet visited here and those visitors would have had horses and probably would have included an international assortment of ships and crews, with people who could read and write in several, mainly Asiatic, scripts.

(Is it a sign of someone's limited education and the dumbed down US popular culture that when she or he imagines a channel back to an ancient life it tends to go back to Egypt rather than to the Scythians or the Hittites or the Dravidians? Or that people from whom you would expect such an explanation would see ancient Egyptian symbolism here? To this writer to top middle part of the above photo looks vaguely like a South or Southeast Asian script, but that's an impression best left to somebody who actually knows something about such languages in their modern and antiquated forms to judge.)

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The most common version you will hear from locals is that this is an abstract map of different caciques' turfs in the area at about the time when Panama's indigenous people discovered Europeans on their beaches.

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This was not this reporter's first, second or third visit to the petroglyphs. But things had changed for the better since the last visit in a couple of small but important respects.

First, on a gray rainy season weekday morning there was now a little IPAT information booth, which was staffed by a friendly man who had little maps of El Valle's to give away to visitors.

Second, the path up to the petroglyphs is now paved in concrete, so you can go there on a rainy season day and not have to clean a lot of mud off of your shoes afterwards.

Thus it seems that the tourism promotion effort headed by IPAT director Rubén Blades has some literal and figurative concrete progress to show.

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Fortunately, this bit of development was done on a tastefully appropriate scale. They didn't pave paradise so that the yeyes could drive daddy's SUV right up to the archaeological site and have a reggaeton and spray painting party. In fact it's a relaxing little stroll on a weekday morning in the off season, with more water in the mountain stream and more flowers along the way than you will encounter when dry season brings tourists in greater numbers.
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Re: From when, by whom?

Post Number:#2  Postby mahalla2 » Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:46 am

This appears to be a very beautiful area and no wonder it was chosen as a place of habitation by this very old culture. I agree that these petroglyphs seem to have a look similar to perhaps old Chinese letters however I also see a few symbols used by the Hopi and a few that almost look like runic forms - so who were these people? Could it have been an ancient society's first attempt at connecting symbols to form a pattern of writing or perhaps the end result of losing a written language through the loss of culture? I believe there have been many distinct groups of people (sometimes the result of maritime alliances forged in other countries) who have been in and out of the America's over the duration of thousands of years and for this reason I personally rule nothing out - Thank you for sharing such interesting and thought provoking photos. :)

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The Beauty of Our Ancient Past is "Hidden in Plain Sight"
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