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Pinturas Rupestres Banzhá

Rock art in Hidalgo, Mexico

This past Friday I made a day trip out of El DF into rural Hidalgo state at the invitation of Rocío Gress and Ana Díaz. Carlos Mondragon, my gracious host for my week long stay in Mexico, was doubly gracious to serve as our driver out of the capital’s morning rush hour traffic and onto some bumpy country roads.

Our Banzhá rock art visit was by far the highlight of my week in Mexico. And I say that 1) after having had been wowed by the Aztec Templo Mayor on the previous Sunday, the Museo Nacional Nacional de Antropología on Tuesday, and Teotihuacan on Wednesday, and 2) despite finding myself in the middle of a nasty head cold on the day of the visit.



The paintings are located in the Valle del Mezquital, within the east-facing overhang shelter seen in this photo.


The trailhead. Plenty of sunshine, thorns, big views, and loose rocks on the way up.


View eastward on the path to the shelter. The Hidalgo/Queretaro state line is just to the north.


The shelter is managed by the local community. School groups make regular trips to the paintings to discuss their history and preservation.


View to south. Ana, Rocío, and Carlos are at the Horned Serpent panel (see below). Light flake scatter and a few sherds were present on the sediment surface.

The Horned Serpent panel


Carlos and Ana at the Horned Serpent panel. The Serpent looks northward.


The Horned Serpent’s head.


Rocío pointed out that the figure immediately in front of the Horned Serpent appears to be playing a musical instrument. I popped the colors on this image to make the fact clearer.


A smaller Horned Serpent—or perhaps smaller depiction of the same Serpent who dominates the panel—is present just above the larger serpent.

The Venados panel


A panel to the north of the Horned Serpent panel includes multiple deer, among other figures.


Rocío tells me that these figures possess attributes indicating they were created later than than the Horned Serpent. The figure at upper left is clearly an armadillo. I’m not sure about the identification of the figure at lower left.


A censor?


Ana brought to my attention that if you imagine this figure playing a flute then it is hard not to see similarities with Kokopelli.


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