Sierra de San Francisco (Baja California Sur, Mexico)

The Baja California peninsula has around 360 rock art sites, corresponding to one of the most extensive rock art regions in Mexico. In this desertic and inhospitable environment, our study focuses on the Sierra de San Francisco, a mountain range in the middle of the peninsula and home to a large concentration of sites with the spectacular Great Mural rock art tradition. This rock art is generally found in large shelters known locally as “cuevas” and is characterised by the representation of human and animal figures with large dimensions (some motifs reaching up to 4 m. in length) and a naturalistic aspect. Men, women, and children –often displaying different headdresses– appear either in isolation or forming extensive groups. The animals represented are those common in the peninsula, including terrestrial and aquatic fauna. Among the animals it is possible to observe the presence of white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, pumas, rabbits, eagles, sea lions and turtles. The dates obtained from the archaeometric study of painting samples suggest that the Great Mural tradition had a lifespan of about six millennia, from the eigth millennium BP to about seven centuries ago, although there are also later paintings of lesser quality.

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