ANTHROPOLOGIE
International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
 
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2022 (Vols. 1-60)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
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Full text of article
'Paillet P, 2010: L'art rupestre gravé du rio Vermelho (Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso, Brésil). De nouvelles découvertes dans l'abri Morro Solteiro. Anthropologie (Brno) 48, 3: 209-230'.
 
Abstract
In the southern part of Mato Grosso, the rio Vermelho notches the continental sandstone plateau and creates important rock escarpments. On the west side of Rondonópolis city and before the swampy plain of Pantanal, on 250-300 km², the mineral landscape is interrupted by cliffs and ruin-shaped boulders sheltering almost 140 rock art sites. The research presented here is part of an interdisciplinary program of scientific cooperation, L'Homme fossile et ses paléoenvironnements dans le bassin du Paraná (Brésil), associating for the past 30 years the Museum National d'Histoire naturelle of Paris (France) and São Paulo University (Brazil). It is directed by Agueda Vilhena-Vialou. The institutional and scientific frame of our research is multidisciplinary. It gives structure and dynamism to our joint archaeological approach of prehistoric settlements and rock art sites, opening at the same time large perspectives for the analysis and compared description of paleoenvironments and actual landscapes, and for the characterization of territories and of their possible cultural identities. The study of the rock art of this region is an essential part of the archaeological program. Our work aims at the identification of relations between rock art, open-air excavated settlements and natural territories visited by prehistoric populations. During the fieldwork, these theoretical goals are conducted with an inventory of sites followed by topography, physical and taphonomic analysis of supports, analytic and descriptive inventory of figures, graphic tracings, digital recording of identified representations, study of artistic techniques and graphic treatments of the figures, analysis of the relative chronology of the decoration and finally determination of graphic vocabularies and of formal repertories. Today we are able to sketch a large chronological and cultural framework of the monumental symbolic practices represented by drawing, painting and engraving. The rock art of Mato Grosso probably took place between 4000 and 1000 BP. It is characterized by a majority of geometric patterns and signs, some figurative representations such as birds, reptiles or mammals - but more often undetermined animal figures - and a very few schematic human figures. The most common artistic techniques are dark red, red, orange or yellow painting and drawing. Some white paintings or purple, red and black pencil drawings complete the painted art range. Engraved sets are rare, even if recent discoveries have given a new and important place to this expression form. These discoveries especially concern the northern part of the study zone. The Morro Solteiro site, on the right bank of rio Vermelho, is a complex of preceramic and ceramic settlements and of eight rock art sites (or locus), of a high importance. The two monumental engraved and picked blocks studied here come from the dislocation of sandstone banks in Morro Solteiro 1 (MS1). It is the most important rock shelter of the complex, and the place of the densest prehistoric occupations. The iconographic set takes place on all the shelter length, from the actual ground to the ceiling, at almost 3 m high. It gathers about 400 graphic entities, badly conserved, realized with different expression techniques. The site offers a synthesis of all the techniques existing in the region. We find red and purple paintings and drawings, a few purple pencil drawings (always superimposed on other techniques) and, above all, an unusual number of yellow or ochre representations (about fifty), as well as white or even grey representations (about forty). Black paintings and drawings are very rare and rarely structured. Engravings are present in different forms such as piquetage (about forty structured representations such as patterns, animals and humans) and linear engraving (like the alignment of a hundred of polished grooves, thirty of which are coloured in red, on a rock prominence on the second part of the shelter). Alignments or layers of cupules, of different size and depth, can be seen on rocks from the banks. The engraved art at MS1 is remarkable on the two monumental blocks presented here. The first one is covered with grooves and cupules and the second carries a great human figure, net and paw-shaped signs and several cupules. The detailed analysis of the two blocks relies on their graphic tracing made by direct contact on the rock with a transparent support, in link with detailed digital recordings. We have engaged a methodological reflection on the process of recording and documentation of the engraved decoration, as well as on the precise analysis of the graphic expression used and its terminology. We also have studied the links between the paintings and engravings on the walls of Morro Solteiro 1 and of two nearby sites (MS2 and MS4). It shows that even though there exists an expressive diversity, there is a strong link between the techniques and formal repertories on the blocks, the walls and the grounds of the three shelters taken as example in this work. Rock paintings and engravings in Morro Solteiro seem to be the product of a same cultural world, with similar symbolic expression. Nevertheless, this analysis is only preliminary. We absolutely need to correlate the rock art figures, in their expressive diversity, with the different archaeological contexts discovered under the main shelter of Morro Solteiro. This contextualization is not yet realized and we must remain very cautious with our interpretation. Our actual work is the first step of a more ambitious research on all the engraved and carved art known in the region, especially in the direct environment of Morro Solteiro.
 
Keywords
Rock Art - Brasil - Mato Grosso - Rio Vermelho - Engravings
 
Resume
Au sud du Mato Grosso, le rio Vermelho entaille le plateau continental gréseux et dégage de puissants escarpements rocheux. À l'ouest de la ville de Rondonópolis et avant la plaine marécageuse du Pantanal, sur 250 à 300 km², le paysage minéral est rythmé par des falaises, des à-pics et des buttes-témoins ruiniformes qui abritent près de 140 sites d'art rupestre. Les programmes de fouilles dans certains habitats, de prospections et d'étude de l'art rupestre entrepris depuis près de 30 ans ont donné un large cadre chrono-culturel aux pratiques symboliques monumentales incarnées ici par le dessin, la peinture et la gravure. C'est probablement entre 4000 ans et 1000 ans environ avant le présent que se développe l'art rupestre du rio Vermelho. Une majorité de signes et de motifs géométriques simples ou plus élaborés, des représentations d'oiseaux, de reptiles ou de mammifères, plus souvent des animaux de statut zoologique indéterminé, et enfin quelques représentations humaines schématiques constituent le corpus rupestre dominant. Les techniques d'expression les plus courantes sont la peinture et le dessin en rouge sombre, rouge, orangé ou jaune. Des peintures blanches et quelques crayonnages violets, rouges ou noirs complètent la panoplie de l'art peint. Les dispositifs gravés sont globalement plus rares, même si de récentes découvertes ont redonné une place importante à cette forme d'expression. Ces découvertes concernent notamment le secteur septentrional de l'aire d'étude. Le Morro Solteiro, en rive droite du rio Vermelho, est un complexe d'habitats précéramiques et à céramiques et de huit sites d'art rupestres de première importance (MS1 à MS8). Les deux blocs monumentaux gravés et piquetés étudiés dans ces pages proviennent de la dislocation de deux bancs gréseux du principal site orné (MS1). Une réflexion méthodologique est engagée sur les modalités d'enregistrement et de documentation de ces dispositifs gravés, ainsi que sur l'analyse fine des techniques d'expression graphique mises en œuvre et leur terminologie descriptive. Les rapports établis entre peintures et gravures sur les parois de Morro Solteiro 1 et de deux autres sites proches (MS2 et MS4) sont également étudiés. L'analyse détaillée des deux blocs s'appuie sur leur relevé graphique effectué sur support transparent par contact direct, couplé à un enregistrement photographique détaillé. Elle montre qu'il existe bien, malgré la diversité expressive entre les différentes pratiques pariétales, un lien fort entre techniques et répertoires formels sur les blocs, les parois et les sols des trois abris pris comme exemple dans ce travail. Nous devons également réfléchir à la contemporanéité des peintures et des gravures rupestres à Morro Solteiro et à leur appartenance culturelle. Pour ce faire, il est important d'en étudier la composante iconographique mais également de corréler les œuvres rupestres dans leur diversité expressive aux différents contextes archéologiques mis au jour sous l'abri principal du Morro Solteiro (MS1). Cette contextualisation n'est pas encore totalement acquise et il convient de rester extrêmement prudent en termes d'interprétation. Notre travail actuel constitue la première étape d'une recherche plus importante sur l'ensemble de l'art gravé et sculpté connu dans la région et notamment dans les environs même du Morro Solteiro.
 
Motscles
Art rupestre - Brésil - Mato Grosso - Rio Vermelho - Gravures
 
 
 
 

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