Recent Investigations in Rock Art Dating in Several Cuban Caves


This is an abstract from the "Technique and Interpretation in the Archaeology of Rock Art" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Cuba has many karst caves with pictographs, but there has been uncertainty about who created the rock art. The prehistoric population, historic indigenous groups pushed to the margins by the Spanish, and maroons or escaped African slaves are all possibilities. Cuban archaeologists have debated for decades which groups were associated with which rock art styles. The complexities of Cuba’s history made dating rock paintings attractive as a method for determining origins. Recently, the first AMS radiocarbon dates for Cuban rock paintings were produced from one cave in Matanzas Province and three from the Las Charcas caves in Mayabeque Province. Samples from the Matanzas cave and one of the Las Charcas caves were consistent with carbon black and yielded reliable prehistoric dates. However, two other Las Charcas caves, located in close proximity, had dates much older than expected (on average 14,000 BP) and undoubtedly did not reflect true age. Compositional analysis indicated that resins from Pinus species as well as significant hydrocarbons were present. Further analysis of the hydrocarbons indicated these were probably gilsonite, a solid bitumen material present in the region—the first instance of the use of bitumen as a paint matrix for rock art that we have found.

Cite this Record

Recent Investigations in Rock Art Dating in Several Cuban Caves. Suzanne Baker, Ruth Ann Armitage, Roger Arrazcaeta, Silvia Torres. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450435)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23105