Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Taíno Cave Art Under Siege Volume 54 Number 2, March/April 2001
by Angela M.H. Schuster

Blasts from limestone mining operations near the Pomier Caves in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, continue to threaten 2,000-year-old rock art painted by the Taíno, Carib, and Igneri peoples. Discovered in 1851 by Sir Robert Schonburgk, then British consul to the Dominican Republic, the 54 caves contain some 6,000 images of birds, fish, reptiles, and humans. The largest of the caves contains some 590 drawings, considered by scholars to be among the finest Precolumbian rupestral works in the Caribbean.

Quarrying limestone for use in manufacture of concrete and antacids is not new to the area, nor is its damaging effect on the rock art. The nearby Borbón Caves Anthropological Reserve was extended in 1996 to include and thereby protect 12 of the Pomier Caves from limestone quarrying. The rest lie outside the protected zone; five of these have suffered severe damage.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America