The Pictographic Assemblage from the Colossal Natural Bridge on the Ndaxagua, Coixtlahuaca Basin, NorthWestern Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico

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Few Mesoamerican caves present an assemblage of rock paintings of such quality, variety of styles, and from so many different time periods as those found on the walls of the tunnel under the Colossal Bridge on the Ndaxagua, in the northern Coixtlahuaca Basin of Oaxaca. The assemblage from El Puente constitutes a remarkable record of ritual cave use and native cosmology that includes pictograms that possibly correspond to the poorly documented Archaic Period, the Late Formative, and the Classic through the early Post-Classic Periods. Painting and drawing on theis cave's walls ceased during the Late Post-Classic Period, by which time the Basin's inhabitants revered this landform as central to their cosmogony and to the establishment of the principal dynasty of rulers, appropriating and reinterpreting its painted legacy as their history. This artilce describes the unique landform and the pictograms found in its interior, provides interpretations for them, and refers to the continuity of themes in some of the paintings, and to the changes in notation over the course of approximately 3,000 years.


Coixtlahuaca Basin, Chocho-Mixteca, Ndaxagua Colossal Bridge tunnel, Pictographic writing, Oaxaca

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