The Watch

Macusani-Corani Rock Art

Macusani and Corani, Peru

2008 World Monuments Watch

Between the years 2000 and 2007, more than 100 sites containing ancient pictographs painted on volcanic rock were discovered in the Macusani and Corani districts of Puno, Peru. The sites—which range in elevation from 4,200 to 4,600 meters above sea level—exhibit a fantastic array of iconographic motifs, some unique to the region. Collectively, they constitute the largest concentration of art from the Archaic period in the Americas. Scholars believe the zoomorphic, anthropomorphic, and geometric figures, as yet unanalyzed, will provide greater understanding of the earliest peoples of the Andean highlands. In 2005, these sites were designated national cultural patrimony by the Peruvian government. Some of the largest deposits of uranium in Peru are found in Macusani and Corani. In 2005, mining companies began exploring the potential to develop operations in the districts where about 90 percent of the rock-art sites are found. Despite designating the sites as national patrimony that same year, the Peruvian government continued to distribute mining rights because the pictographs have not been mapped and a protective zone has yet to be established. Without intervention, open-pit mining will result in the destruction of the Macusani-Corani rock-art sites. Last update: 2011

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