Cueva La Conga: First karst cave archaeology in Nicaragua


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Cueva la Conga, recorded in June 2006, is the first limestone cave in Nicaragua reported to contain prehistoric rock paintings, culturally modified natural formations called speleothems, and artifacts. Located in northcentral Nicaragua in the Department of Jinotega, Cueva la Conga is the farthest south on the Mesoamerican periphery that a cave of this type has been reported, and it extends our knowledge of ritual cave use, including cave painting and speleothem modification, to include Nicaragua. Radiocarbon analysis of charcoal in five samples of the paint, the first such dating of Nicaraguan rock art, yielded calibrated dates from cal A.D. 680—905 to cal A.D. 1403—1640. The baseline data provided by Cueva la Conga are of great importance for regional rock art analysis and for our growing understanding of regional and Nicaraguan prehistory. More archaeological survey and excavations in the area will be key in establishing a firm cultural context for the rock art and ritual cave use found at Cueva la Conga.


Caves, Cave paintings, Speleothems, North and Central America, Nicaragua

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North and Central America; Nicaragua

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Volume 24, Issue 3