Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A new study to be presented Wednesday at a Geological Society of America meeting suggests that some of the earliest drawings in Puerto Rican caves are thousands of years old.
The drawings in the karstic caves could indicate the presence of the first slave art, researchers said.
The Geological Society said previous attempts to date the cave art were based on comparisons with nearby archaeological artifacts and may not have accurately represented the true timeframe of the art's creation.
Angel Acosta-Colon, a geophysicist at University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, and his colleague Reniel Rodríguez, an archaeologist at UPR Utuado, traveled to almost a dozen caves on La Isla Grande, the largest island in the Puerto Rican archipelago, to collect sample pigments of the pictographic art.
The samples then underwent carbon-14 dating at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia. There, the research team discovered that the earliest abstract pictographs in the caves dated to about 700 to 400 BCE.
"That is very important to us because when the European invasion came to Puerto Rico, they put in a document that our precolonial population was only there for 400 to 500 years," Acosta-Colon said in a press release.
"This proves that we were here [thousands] of years before the European invasion, and that is documented in science, not context archeology...We have data to corroborate what, I think, is one of the first slave art in caves in Puerto Rico."
Acosta-Colon said the findings carry significant implications for comprehending the history of Puerto Rico's population.
In the future, he believes further exploration of additional cave art sites might extend the human history record in Puerto Rico back to 5000 BCE.