Caverna da Pedra Pintada (Painted Rock Cave (Portuguese)), (not to be confused with Pedra Pintada, Roraima) is an archaeological site in Brazil, with evidence of human presence dating back ca. 11,200 years ago.
Rediscovery and excavations
Anna C. Roosevelt rediscovered and excavated the cave extensively from 1990 to 1992. The excavations were supported by the Field Museum and the University of Illinois, Chicago. The lowest levels of the cave were radiocarbon dated and Thermoluminescence dated back to ca. 11,200 to 10,000 years ago.
The early dates of human presence at the cave show that humans did not exclusively migrate from North America down to the Andes in South America, which some archaeologists had previously believed. "We found strong evidence that a culture quite distinct from the North American Paleoindian culture, but contemporary with it, existed more than 5,000 miles to the south", Anna Roosevelt has said. "Paleoindians traveled far and adapted to a diverse range of habitats. The existence of distinct cultures east of the Andes suggests that North American big-game hunters were not the sole source of migration into South America."
The lowest levels of the cave yield charred floral and faunal remains and stone tools, including spear points, suggesting that the earliest visitors were hunter-gatherers in the humid tropical environment. These Paleoindians used the cave frequently over a span of 1,200 years, leaving remains of fruits, seeds, including Brazil nuts, fish, birds, reptiles, shellfish, and amphibians.
30,000 lithic specimens have been excavated from the cave.
Lumps of raw pigment and paint drops from the cave paintings have been dated and are considered to be the earliest paintings in South America and the earliest known cave paintings in the Americas. Images of stick figures, include a woman giving birth; geometric designs; and hand prints are paintings in browns, reds, and yellows.
- Saraceni, Jessica E. and Adriana Franco da Sá. "People of South America." Archaeology. Vol. 49, No. 4, July/August 1996. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Wilford, John Noble. Scientist at Work: Anna C. Roosevelt: Sharp and To the Point In Amazonia. New York Times. 23 April 1996. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Dispatches from Brasil, with photos of the cave and paintings