Gori Tumi Echevarría López

Presidente del Consejo Directivo de 'La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)'

Saltur  -  The Attack  -  Rock Art  -  Checta  -  Huancor



In general I categorically insist that every scientist should be unbiased. A scientist should be a ‘professional’ too; also regarding his or her critiques. Therefore, any critique regarding a scientific publication should concern the work and never the person. Also, I regard it to be incredibly unscientific and unprofessional when any scientist deliberately ignores published work. When a ‘scientist’ (for instance an official archaeologist) deliberately ignores a publication, he or she truly exposes him- or herself as incredible (please note the dual meaning of this word).

In this respect I experienced that several people prove to have this negative attitude the past few years. My criticisms regarding these issues mainly concern the silencing and obstructive attitude of a few members of SIARB (Matthias Strecker, Bolivia), AURA (Robert Bednarik, Australia) and APAR (Gori Tumi Echevarría López, Peru). Since my arguments with the representatives of those official IFRAO organisations started around 2010, it proved that these IFRAO organisations deliberately ignored published works dealing with the subject they are specialised in and should be interested in: (Andean) Rock Art. SIARB is - despite my arguments with Matthias Strecker - a positive exception. Up to now SIARB included references to my publications into their Boletín de SIARB. I hope they will continue this scientifically correct and professional attitude.

In this web page I will only deal with the role of APAR: Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre. The actual objectives of APAR have been formulated as follows: la defensa, protección, investigación y difusión responsable del arte rupestre peruano.

In my opinion one of the consequences of these respectable intentions should be that every piece of relevant information and every publication dealing with the rock art that is found in the modern republic of Peru should be of great significance to APAR. To my surprise this proves not to be the case. Several events, pieces of information and publications are not mentioned/acknowledged by APAR. Also my publications about Latin America rock art after 2010 are completely ignored. When I tried to become a member of APAR in 2010, I was informed via email by the Presidente del Concejo Directivo, Gori Tumi Echevarría López that it was indeed possible to become an APAR member. However, this simultaneously implied, so he wrote, that I should report every pending visit to a rock art site located in Peru well in advance to APAR and that every visit to a site had to be ‘chaperoned’ by an official archaeologist; even freely accessible sites like Toro Muerto. As this does not work for me personally and because of some other current issues (like the fact that previous experiences with some Peruvian archaeologists had turned out in a very negative way and the fact that behind the screens much negative turmoil was going on regarding APAR), I decided not to join APAR.

APAR, Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre, is an IFRAO acknowledged rock art organisation that has been founded in Lima, Peru, in 2007. The principal objectives of APAR are ‘la defensa, protección, investigación y difusión responsable del arte rupestre peruano’.In my opinion this means that APAR should be interested in and concerned about every aspect regarding the rock art of Peru. Moreover in my opinion it is imperative for every IFRAO organisation and their members to be unbiased. Regarding APAR this proved not to be the case.


The Cerro Saltur Issue

Please notice that my criticism only is directed towards a very limited number of persons, as most archaeologists (whether academics or laypersons) in Peru are honourable persons. For the moment I only will expose the negative attitude that I experienced from Gori Tumi Echevarría López in an email-correspondence that started by informing him CC about the destruction of a most important petroglyph at Cerro Saltur.

When I visited the petroglyph boulder at Cerro Saltur (Figure 1) in Lambayeque, northern Peru, it proved to have been badly vandalised by locals with paint. Back home I emailed a Peruvian archaeologist to inform him about this horrific fact as I knew that he is occupied with the archaeology of this specific area and concerned with rock art preservation. In an email he replied that this act of vandalism has occurred shortly after the site had been reported on the internet in 2008.


Figure 1. Part of the violated petroglyph boulder at Cerro Saltur. Photograph by Maarten van Hoek.


Simultaneously I had sent this email CC to Gori Tumi Echevarría López assuming that he - as ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ of ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)’ - would be most interested and concerned. Strangely he was not ‘amused’ (my formulation) to receive that email CC, and he asked me not to write him (personally) again. I promised him that I would never email him personally again. For that reason I - from then on - only use the official email-address of APAR - aparperu@gmail.com  - to inform them. However, to my unpleasant surprise I received an answer from Echevarría López that he did not appreciate at all that I had emailed him CC.

Moreover, there were various accusations in his email. For instance, he accused me of having insulted Dr. Eloy Linares Málaga in the past. I have no idea what he means. I may have criticised the work of Eloy Linares Málaga, but never insulted the person. In general it proves that Echevarría López cannot distinguish between a person being criticized and criticizing an author’s publications. Echevarría López also accused me of using his name (and APAR) in a negative way by making negative references to him and APAR in my publications. This ‘Defining Rock Art’ issue will be explained below. Again, Echevarría López cannot separate the person and the work. When you write something, it can be commented on. That is what I did (see for instance the introduction in Van Hoek 2011) without attacking any person.

Echevarría López further accused me of violating Peruvian laws because I survey rock art sites in Peru and for calling for further in-depth surveying of sites in Peru. He moreover accused me of damaging practices: Sus acciones y su ejemplo le causan un daño irreversible a los sitios arqueológicos peruanos, although he did not offer any factual evidence of physical ‘damage’ caused by me.  He also disrespectfully wrote: Ud. está actuando como un "old cowboy" en el Perú.The fact that I informed him that I only survey a rock art site by taking photographs was - in his opinion - no excuse. Importantly, Echevarría López is the only person who ever criticised in me this way; Robert Bednarik and Matthias Strecker never did. In his email Echevarría López also ‘demanded’ that I should stop my researches in Peru immediately: Pare, desista, deténgase, renuncie, en intervenir, explorar o survey los sitios arqueológicos con quilcas o arte rupestre del Perú. By the way, in their web pages APAR never paid any attention to the destruction of this magnificent and most valuable petroglyph at Cerro Saltur. By the way: I have not stopped my investigations in Peru.


The Attack: La Major Defensa no es el Ataque!

In 2011, when I was busy writing a book about rock art in Lambayeque, Peru, I received an email from Gori Tumi Echevarría López, ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ of ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)’ in which he demanded that I should immediately stop my rock art investigations in Peru: Pare, desista, deténgase, renuncie, en intervenir, explorar o survey los sitios arqueológicos con quilcas o arte rupestre del Perú. Not only was this demand absurd, also the whole context and moreover the way in which his demand was formulated was most insulting, as he accused me of violating Peruvian laws and of damaging practices in the field: Sus acciones y su ejemplo le causan un daño irreversible a los sitios arqueológicos peruanos.

Echevarría López also wrote that I am not a scientist or a researcher because I refuse to acknowledge the negative effect of my researches on archaeological sites. Echevarría López does not seem to know the meaning of the words ‘scientist’ and ‘researcher’ (see also The Huancor Issue further down). These terms are not linked to an academic degree, nor is the standard of quality guaranteed by those terms. Anyone can be a scientist or a researcher; a good or a bad one. Moreover, he should know that in general rock art researchers will be most careful in the field and most respectful towards the sacredness of a site. When I am in Peru, I am a tourist, a scientist and an archaeologist fully respecting the Andean legacy. And that is what Echevarría López ignores. He wrote to me: Ud. está actuando como un ‘old cowboy’ en el Perú, suggesting that I stumble around archaeological sites without any consideration. However, Echevarría López cannot judge me or my actions in the field, since we have never met each other and he ignores the possibility that my actions are equally or even more respectful than those of an academic archaeologist.

In many of my publications about Andean rock art, whether in printed form or on the internet, I have articulated the integrity and sacredness of archaeological sites. My web site has a special page explicitly pronouncing the ethics regarding rock art sites: Rock art is vulnerable: protect it! But most importantly, rock art is the legacy of ancient civilisations and many or perhaps all rock art sites are religious sites and valuable for those civilisations and their ancestors: Respect the rock art, the rock and its environment!

I have been researching rock art sites in many parts of the world for 35 years and also because of my contacts with many rock art researchers (academic or not) I have gained a lot of experience how to survey rock art sites. In those 35 years not a single person has ever said to me that I acted inappropriately in the field during my surveys. In Europe, Africa, the United States and in South America I have been accompanied several times by professional, academic archaeologists, only because I prefer to work with experts (whether academic or not). Also, in those 35 years not a single editor, like Robert Bednarik or Matthias Strecker, ever told me that I was doing something incorrect or illegal after having submitted a paper. Only Echevarría López did.

Mainly because of the attitude of APAR it seems that the group of researchers studying Andean rock art split into two ‘camps’. One group comprises the APAR-members; the followers of Echevarría López, while the other group represents an ‘unorganized’ collective rock art researchers. At first I thought that this alleged division was based on the distinction between Peruvians and foreigners. But then I realised that APAR embraced foreign rock art researchers like Robert Bednarik, who originally is from Austria and lives in Australia for many years now. Especially Bednarik, convener of IFRAO, now seems to support APAR. Then I thought that the division was based on the distinction between academic archaeologists and non-academic archaeologists, but then again Bednarik is a non academic, like me. Therefore I now fear that the Presidente del Consejo Directivo of La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre seems to have a personal grudge against me.

In 2011 and 2012 I published four books about Andean rock art that are most relevant for the ‘estudio y la protección del arte rupestre’. However, not a single word about these publications appeared in one of the two APAR web sites. My publications are simply ignored, while I emailed APAR and/or Echevarría López personally about those publications. In my opinion any ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ of ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)’ should be completely unbiased. He or she should judge the contents of a publication and not ignore it for personal reasons.

It may sound strange, but I applaud the foundation of APAR very loudly. But APAR does not exist. Only the people, the members of APAR, and their views ‘build’ APAR. Similarly, the economic crisis has not been caused by ‘the banks’, but by people. Thus, the mentality of the dominant person(s) determine(s) the ‘face’ and the efficiency (or inefficiency) of APAR or any other organisation. One of the most important attitudes of APAR (or SIARB or AURA or any other rock art organisation) should be being unprejudiced, but I fear that this is not always the case.

Instead, it seems that the attitude of APAR created an unwanted and unconstructive division between APAR-members and non-APAR-members. Any schism is detrimental, to a family, to a nation and also to the protection of rock art. Instead ‘obeying’ the paradigm ‘united we stand; divided we fall’, APAR chooses to both ignore my valuable contributions (and that of others) and even to attack me (and others). If this is caused by the ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ of ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre’, Echevarría López, then I suggest electing another person; someone who is capable to unite instead of to divide; someone who is eager to collaborate instead of to attack.

In Holland we have a saying that translated freely reads: when you have the intention to beat up a dog, one will easily find a stick. Echevarría López uses the Peruvian Laws as the ‘stick’ to attack/threaten me and thus ignores the spirit of the laws and ignores the most important goal of APAR: ‘la protección del arte rupestre’. As long as an APAR member is offensive to me and uses Peruvian Law as a ‘beating stick’, either to threaten me or someone else (there has been another, similarly awkward attack on an other distinguished rock art researcher - Rainer Hostnig - and this attack has been published on the internet at various occasions), I will never collaborate with APAR. APAR does not seem to realise how much the study of ‘Peruvian’ Rock Art and its protection would gain from collaboration!

In fact (and this is my opinion - I am not telling APAR what to do) it would have been much more constructive and effective if APAR, in its first days of foundation, would have contacted me and every other rock art researcher active in Peru and outside Peru, both academic and non-academic, occupied with Andean rock art studies and invite her or him to collaborate with APAR without immediately ‘enforcing’ the ‘rules’ of APAR upon those researchers. This way a positive spirit of collaboration would have been developed, which would have been most profitable for the study and protection of Andean rock art (importantly: there is no Peruvian rock art; only rock art that happens to be located in the modern republic of in Peru).

Ironically, in one of the APAR-topics I found the following line: ‘La mejor defensa no es el ataque, sino mantener la integridad: confianza e inocencia son las guías’. If only APAR would follow this paradigm. But again, APAR does not exist; only people do. Let us hope for a positive and constructive future for Andean rock art studies in which collaboration between all researchers is essential.

Finally, I once read: ‘… y recuerden que hay que registrar el arte rupestre para conocerlo, hay que conocerlo para educar y hay que educar para proteger al arte rupestre’. Luis Rodolfo Monteverde Sotil. Miembro de la Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR). Lima, Mayo: 2008 (Source).


El Ataque: La Major Defensa no es el Ataque!

En el año 2011, cuando yo estaba ocupado escribiendo un libro sobre arte rupestre en Lambayeque, Perú, he recibido un mensaje de correo electrónico (desencadenada por la Saltur - Issue) de Gori Tumi Echevarría López, ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ de ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)’ en la que exigía que me debe parar inmediatamente mis investigaciones de arte rupestre en el Perú: Pare, desista, deténgase, renuncie, en intervenir, explorar o survey los sitios arqueológicos con quilcas o arte rupestre del Perú. Esto no sólo es una demanda absurda, también a la manera en que su demanda fue formulado era más insultantes, como me ha acusado de violar las leyes peruanas y de las prácticas nocivas en el campo. Echevarría López en particular escribió: Sus acciones y su ejemplo le causan un daño irreversible a los sitios arqueológicos peruanos.

Echevarría López también escribió que soy ni un científico ni un investigador porque me niego a reconocer el efecto negativo de mis investigaciones en sitios arqueológicos. Echevarría López no parece saber el significado de las palabras ‘científico’ y ‘investigador’ (ver: Huancor). Estos términos no están ligadas a un grado académico, ni tampoco es ninguna norma de calidad garantizada por esos términos. Cualquiera puede ser un científico o un investigador; un buen o un mal. Por otra parte, él debe saber que, en general los investigadores arte rupestre son más cuidadosa en el campo y más respetuosa con la sacralidad de un sitio. Cuando estoy en el Perú, soy un turista, un científico y un arqueólogo respetando plenamente el legado andino. Y eso es lo que Echevarría López ignora. Me escribió: Ud. está actuando como un ‘old cowboy’ en el Perú, lo que sugiere que yo tropiezan en sitios arqueológicos sin consideración alguna. Sin embargo, Echevarría López no podemos juzgarme o mis acciones en el campo, ya que nunca nos hemos entrevistado con los otros y ignora la posibilidad que mis acciones están igual respetuoso o incluso más respetuoso que un arqueólogo académico.

En muchos de mis publicaciones sobre arte rupestre Andino, ya sea en forma impresa o en internet, me han articulado la integridad y el carácter sagrado de sitios arqueológicos. Mi sitio web tiene una página especial pronunciarse explícitamente la ética para sitios de arte rupestre: Rock art is vulnerable: protect it! But most importantly, rock art is the legacy of ancient civilisations and many or perhaps all rock art sites are religious sites and valuable for those civilisations and their ancestors: Respect the rock art, the rock and its environment!

He venido investigando sitios de arte rupestre en muchas partes del mundo durante 35 años y también porque de mis contactos con muchos investigadores arte rupestre (sean académicos o no) me han obtenido una gran experiencia cómo encuesta sitios de arte rupestre. En esos 35 años ni una sola persona ha estado alguna vez me dijo que yo haya actuado incorrectamente en el campo durante mis estudios. En Europa, África, Estados Unidos y en América del Sur me han acompañado varias veces por arqueólogos profesionales, académicas, sólo porque prefiero trabajar con los expertos (sean académicos o no). Además, en esos 35 años ni un solo editor, como Robert Bednarik o Matthias Strecker, nunca me dijo que me estaba haciendo algo incorrecto o ilegal después de haber presentado un documento. Sólo Echevarría López hizo.

Principalmente debido a la actitud de APAR parece que el grupo de investigadores, estudiando arte rupestre Andino dividida en dos ‘campos’. Un grupo comprende el APAR-miembros; los seguidores de Echevarría López, mientras que el otro grupo representa un ‘desorganizada’ 'colectivo' del arte rupestre los investigadores. En un primer momento pensé que esta supuesta división se basa en la distinción entre peruanos y extranjeros. Pero luego me di cuenta de que APAR abrazado investigadores de arte rupestre extranjeros como Robert Bednarik, que originalmente es de Austria y viva en Australia durante muchos años ahora. Especialmente Bednarik, coordinador de IFRAO, ahora parece apoyar APAR. Entonces pensé que la división se basa en la distinción entre los arqueólogos académicos y los arqueólogos no-académicos, pero, una vez más Bednarik es un no-académico, al igual que yo. Por lo tanto ahora temo que el Presidente del Consejo Directivo de la Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre parece haber una animosidad personal contra mí.

En el año 2011 he publicado dos libros sobre arte rupestre Andino que son más importantes para el ‘estudio y la protección del arte rupestre’.  Sin embargo, no hay una sola palabra sobre estas publicaciones aparecieron en uno de los dos sitios web de APAR. Mi publicaciones simplemente se omiten, mientras le mandé APAR y Echevarría López personalmente acerca de esos dos publicaciones. En mi opinión cualquier ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ de ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)' debe ser totalmente imparcial. Él o ella debe juzgar el contenido de una publicación y no hacer caso omiso de ella por motivos personales.

Puede sonar extraño, pero me alegro de la fundación de APAR muy fuerte. Pero APAR no existe. Sólo las personas, los miembros de APAR, y sus opiniones 'crear' APAR. Del mismo modo, la crisis económica no ha sido causado por ‘los bancos’, sino por personas. Por lo tanto, la mentalidad dominante de la persona(s) determina(n) la ‘cara’ y la eficiencia de APAR. Una de las actitudes más importantes de APAR (o SIARB o AURA o cualquier otro arte rupestre organización) hay que estar sin prejuicios, pero me temo que este no es el caso (también SIARB o no con AURA).

En lugar de eso, parece que la actitud de APAR creó una división no deseados y poco constructiva entre APAR-miembros y no-APAR miembros. Cualquier cisma es perjudicial, a una familia, a una nación y también a la protección del arte rupestre. En su lugar ‘mandar obedeciendo’ el paradigma ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, APAR opta por tanto pasar por alto mi valiosas contribuciones y aun a me atacan (y otros, en el internet). Si esto es causado por el ‘Presidente del Consejo Directivo’ de ‘La Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre’, Echevarría López, a continuación, sugiero elegir otra persona, alguien que es capaz de unir en lugar de dividir; alguien que está dispuesto a colaborar en vez de atacar.

En la Holanda hay un dicho que traducido libremente dice: cuando se tiene la intención de golpear a un perro, uno puede encontrar un palo nuy rapido. Echevarría López utiliza las leyes peruanas como el ‘palo’ para atacarme, me amenazan y, por lo tanto, pasa por alto el espíritu de las leyes y pasa por alto el objetivo más importante de APAR: ‘la protección del arte rupestre’. En la medida en que un miembro APAR es ofensiva para mí y utiliza ley peruana como un ‘palo’, ya sea que me amenazan o alguien más, yo no voy colaborar con el APAR. APAR no parece darse cuenta de lo mucho se beneficiaría el estudio de Arte Rupestre Peruano’ y su protección de colaboración!

De hecho (y esta es mi opinión - y no estoy diciendo APAR qué hacer) habría sido mucho más constructivo y eficaz si APAR, en sus primeros días de la fundación, que se han puesto en contacto conmigo y todos los demás investigadores de arte rupestre activo en Perú y fuera del Perú, tanto académicos y no-académicos, ocupados con le estudio de arte rupestre Andino y invitar a él o a ella para colaborar con el APAR sin inmediatamente ‘hacer cumplir’ las ‘reglas’ de APAR a los investigadores. Esta forma un espíritu de colaboración que se han desarrollado, lo que habría sido más rentables para el estudio y la protección del arte rupestre Andino (importante: no hay arte rupestre Peruano; sólo arte rupestre que sucede que se encuentra en la moderna República del Perú).

Irónicamente, en uno de los APAR-temas me he encontrado la siguiente línea: ‘La mejor defensa no es el ataque, sino mantener la integridad: confianza e inocencia son las guías’. Si solo APAR seguiría este paradigma. Una vez más, APAR no existe; sólo lo hacen las personas. Esperemos que este sea un futuro positivo y constructivo para estudios de arte rupestre Andino en que la colaboración entre todos los investigadores es esencial.

Por último, una vez leí: … y recuerden que hay que registrar el arte rupestre para conocerlo, hay que conocerlo para educar y hay que educar para proteger al arte rupestre. Luis Rodolfo Monteverde Sotil. Miembro de la Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR). Lima, Mayo: 2008 (Source).


Defining Rock Art

Globally many researchers are occupied with the systematic study of rock art. However, the term Rock Art has always been a subject of debate. I as well am not happy with the term Rock Art. The main issue in all those debates is which anthropic art expressions are actually included by the term Rock Art. It is not my intention to review here all the alternatives, the many comments and suggestions that have been put forward throughout the times. The reason for this short essay is that Gori Tumi Echevarría López emailed me the following by the end of 2011: Ud. usa mi nombre y el nombre de APAR para su publicidad particular y constantemente hace alusiones negativas contra nosotros, no tiene ningún respeto y consideración por la forma y las maneras, es realmente penoso ver su accionar en estos asuntos. I feel that I have to explain this situation. As Echevarría López did not specifically clarify what he meant, I think that he probably referred to my publication about Cerro Pano (2011a) in which I correctly refer to an APAR term, and to two further publications (2011b and 2011c) in which I wrote the following statement (in two slightly different versions):

First it will be necessary to define architectural art and rock art. Architectural art comprises all art forms (engravings, sculptures, paintings etc.) that have intentionally been made to exclusively adorn surfaces of anthropic (humanly made) constructions. Fine examples of architectural art are the engravings at Cerro Sechín in northern Peru. Also the zoomorphic images made up by small stone blocks built into the stone terraces at Choquequirao, an archaeological complex west of the city of Cusco, Peru, must be regarded as architectural art and not as rock art, despite the unwanted manipulation of the definition of rock art by Echevarría López & Valencia García and despite the uncritical acceptance of their paper in Rock Art Research (2009: 213). On the other hand, rock art is the corpus of imagery (mainly petroglyphs and rock paintings) that is found on natural rock surfaces (boulders and outcrop).


First of all, it is incorrect to use, refer to or comment on a publication without mentioning the name(s) of the author(s) of the publication you comment on, so that is what I do. Secondly, if someone pretends to publish a (scientific) article she or he should be prepared to receive comments: when you write, you can be commented on. Echevarría López publishes and APAR publishes, so both can be commented on. The fact that my remarks prove to have been received as ‘negative’ is not my responsibility. In my publications I did not commented on the person of Echevarría López, although I personally (still) disagree with the uncritical acceptance of their paper by Robert Bednarik, the editor of Rock Art Research.


If Echevarría López (or whoever) publishes something that is demonstrably incorrect and/or unscientific, or when he publishes statements that someone does not agree with, he must expect to receive counteractive comments. If he cannot handle those comments scientifically and only reacts on a personal basis, I can only conclude that Echevarría López is not able to separate my person and my publications. What he should have done is commenting on my remarks in an unbiased way. He never did.


In the paragraph above there are actually two issues. Firstly there is the unwanted manipulation of the definition of rock art by Echevarría López & Valencia García and secondly there is the uncritical acceptance of their paper in Rock Art Researchby Robert Bednarik, the editor. The second issue centres on the following: By accepting the paragraph in which the definition of rock art has been incorrectly manipulated in order to ‘fit’ into Rock Art Research, Robert Bednarik lowered the high standards of that Journal. On a personal basis I am disappointed by this acceptance because Bednarik refused me to write a sequel regarding the Khan Issue (click this Khan-tab at the top of the page to read about this situation that occurred around the same time as the Echevarría López Issue and the Núñez Jiménez Issue).


Rock Art Definitions

The first issue centres on the definition of rock art. The IFRAO Glossary defines rock art as follows (my emphasis): rock art - non-utilitarian anthropic markings on rock surfaces, made either by an additive process (pictogram) or by a reductive process (petroglyph). The main criterion in this definition is the simple word ‘on’. Also, there is no mention of geoglyphs in the IFRAO definition. In general I agree with this straightforward definition.

It now seems that Echevarría López uses two different definitions of rock art. Echevarría López once published the following definition of rock art (AURA Newsletter 2009: 7; my emphasis): ‘In this sense a consistent definition without subjective indications is necessary. According to Robert G. Bednarik, “A scientific definition of rock art (…) is that it consists of markings occurring on rock surfaces that were ‘intentionally’ produced by members of the genus Homo (i.e. anthropic markings), that are detectable by ‘normal’ human sensory faculties, and that are concept-mediated externalisations of a ‘conscious’ awareness of some form of perceived reality (Bednarik 2007)’.

En este sentido una definición regular, sin indicaciones subjetivas, es necesaria. De acuerdo a Robert Bednarik, “Una científica definición de arte rupestre (…) es que este consiste de marcas que ocurren en la superficie de las rocas que fueron“intencionalmente” producidas por miembros del género Homo (p.e. marcas antrópicas), las que son detectables por las facultades sensoriales“normales”, y que son externalizaciones de conceptos meditados de una “conciencia” advertida de la realidad que percibe” (Bednarik 2007)’.

Again, the main criterion in this respect is the simple word ‘on’, and again there is no mention of geoglyphs in this definition. Although this definition is more complex, I find this definition correct.

In view of the two definitions quoted above I now maintain that the second definition of rock art by Echevarría López & Valencia García (2009: 213) is an unwanted manipulation, put forward only to justify the publication the paper in Rock Art Research as a paper dealing with rock art, while - in my opinion - it only deals with architectural art. The otherwise interesting and well presented paper describes several zoomorphic figures at the Choquequirao archaeological site in Peru. These figures are all made by arranging small stones that have been built into the stone walls of the Choquequirao complex (2009: Fig. 4). Regarding those zoomorphic figures Echevarría López & Valencia García wrote that … ‘there is no reason not to accept the kind of rock imagery described here as ‘rock art’ sensu lato, especially in consideration of the additive process involved in the fabric, and this is consistent with the consideration of geoglyphs as rock art in the same sense’ (2009: 213; my emphases).

In my opinion the manipulation of the definition of the term Rock Art by Echevarría López & Valencia García (2009: 213) now is threefold, despite the addition of sensu lato. First of all I categorically reject the idea that ‘an additive process involved in the fabric’ justifies an image of whatever type to be regarded as rock art, if that fabric is anthropic (like an architectural structure). This would mean that every image hanging on a stone wall, i.e. a textile on a stone wall in a medieval castle in France, can be regarded as rock art; the textile being added to the stone wall. Of course this comparison is ridiculous. But accepting the ‘additive process’ as a justification, would also mean that for instance the huge ‘stone llama’ and other ‘images’ built into the massive walls of Sacsayhuamán, an enormous megalithic Inca complex near Cusco, Peru, must be regarded as rock art. These images are made of huge, shaped boulders that have been added intentionally to the walls of the imposing structure. Moreover the whole complex of those megalithic walls mimics the mountains beyond. Should then the whole complex also be regarded as rock art? Of course there is a difference between Sacsayhuamán and Choquequirao, the former using large, meticulously shaped stones, while the latter used rather rough and small, natural stones. This difference, however, is no argument to regard the latter instance as rock art.

More complex is the situation at Cerro Sechín, northern Peru. The walls of this Formative Period temple complex are adorned with numerous engravings (not petroglyphs) on small and large boulders. Most of these decorated boulders have been shaped and smoothened (at least the outward facing surfaces), but this most likely happened at an earlier stage in the ‘workshop’ located a short distance to the NW of the temple complex. Then the decorated boulders were added to the walls of the temple. In consideration of the additive process involved in the fabric this would mean that the images on the stone blocks represent rock art. To me this is unacceptable. I regard the decoration at Cerro Sechín, Sacsayhuamán and Choquequirao and many other Andean archaeological structures as architectural art. For the same reason the ancient Andeans decorated the interior of the same temple with several clay friezes and images incised into the clay walls.

My counter-argument centres on the intentionof the process. The intention was to ‘decorate’ (rather, to sanctify) the temple, not the stone or the natural spot, while a rock art site is usually sanctified because of the presence of rocks at a very special 'natural' spot (in the mindscape of the ancient manufacturer this natural spot naturally is a magical place). The additive process should not involve the addition/incorporation of stones into an anthropic, architectural structure, but the addition of some sort of dye onto a natural stone surface of an in situ rock.

The second manipulation concerns the addition of ‘sensu lato’ to the term rock art. ‘Sensu lato’ means: ‘in the broad sense’. This seems to work, but as no explanation is given for the ‘sensu lato’ addition, it is completely unclear which graphical expression is part of the corpus of rock art that is considered by Echevarría López & Valencia García and which is not. In my opinion ‘sensu lato’ is used in this way to justify an incorrect assessment. And even if a clear description of the contents of rock art ‘sensu lato’ would have been given, I would never accept architectural (rock) art as rock art.

The third manipulation is the comparison of the Choquequirao figures with geoglyphs. Although geoglyphs use the earth crust as their natural canvas, there is (in my opinion) no question of rock art. Creating a figure by arranging rocks in a certain pattern is no rock art, which - according to the official IFRAO definition - involves the creation of an image in or on a rock surface. A geoglyph may be compared with a mosaic, created by arranging many differently coloured fragments of material in order to produce a certain image. But a mosaic is not a painting. Therefore, I do not consider geoglyphs to be a form of rock art, despite the standard inclusion of these often impressive figures into the corpus of rock art (for instance: Hostnig 2003). Accepting geoglyphs as a form of rock art has become a habit; but in my opinion it involves an incorrect use of the IFRAO definition of rock art.

I am not happy with the term ‘rock art’, but yet I will use that term as any other alternative has its flaws.  Rock art is not art, even when we modern people regard it as a form of art. Art is a western construct that in most cases does not at all cover the original nature of the rock art images. I regard rock art as the visual and graphical result of, often deeply experienced, human beliefs and mainsprings, whether personally or culturally triggered. A human being is always controlled by its own, internal biological and psychological nature and by the external influences of the natural environment and cultural environment he or she lives in. This internal mixture may be the reason to create rock art, which, also because of this layered nature, is often beyond description and mysterious.

What is regarded by me as rock art? The main criterion is that rock art uses natural stone surfaces as its canvas. These natural stone surfaces should then be left in their original, natural place. Rock art is intrinsically and directly linked with the natural spot where it was created. Rocks with rock art (?) should not be incorporated into anthropic structures, such as temple walls. If this happens, one should speak of architectural art (see Van Hoek 2012 for a discussion about this subject). Therefore, in correspondence with the IFRAO definition, rock art always concerns an anthropic mark or image executed on or in natural stone (boulders, pebbles and outcrops).

There are only two major categories of rock art: petroglyphs and rock paintings. Petroglyphs are marks or images made by removing parts of the surface of the natural rock, whereas rock paintings are made by adding some sort of dye onto the natural surface of the stone. My definition of rock art (sensu stricto - the white area) clearly excludes all marks or images made by arranging stones in certain patterns (whether it concerns natural stones or shaped stones). Thus geoglyphs are not considered by me to be a form of rock art, and as a consequence I also exclude the zoomorphic images on the walls of Choquequirao. In addition, the latter instance concerns a form of architectural art and is therefore also excluded as rock art. Examples of ‘sensu amplo’ (or perhaps ‘sensu lato’?) rock art (the grey area), have been described by me in a previous article about Egyptian temple petroglyphs (Van Hoek 2009).


The Nunez Jimenez Issue: Checta

Checta is an important rock art site that is easily accessible from Lima. Unfortunately the site has suffered enormously by vandalism that is still going on. Several publications about this area include copies of the Núñez Jiménez (1986) graphics. Echevarría López & Ruiz Alba (2007) include two illustrations by Núñez Jiménez without mentioning the possible flaws in these drawings. Their Gráfico 15 (Núñez Jiménez 1986: 1275) and Gráfico 16 (1986: 1276) concern Piedra 30 from Checta (1986: 658 and 659) and especially Fig. 1275 is inaccurately drawn by Núñez Jiménez.

In the same article these authors also include a drawing by Núñez Jiménez (1986: Fig. 1235) from a boulder at Pucará (2007: Gráfico 14). In another publication Echevarría López copied the same drawing from Pucará (2010: Fig. 2). Echevarría López also includes his own drawing (2010: Fig. 12) that clearly shows that the drawing by Núñez Jiménez is not accurate and not complete. Therefore it is strange that Fig. 12 is not mentioned or discussed in the text. Although the discrepancy between the two illustrations may have been caused by the fact that the boulder has severely been damaged, no general reservation is expressed regarding the uncertainty of Núñez Jiménez graphics.

In another article Echevarría López uses two drawings (2011: Fig. 33 - Group 1 [Núñez Jiménez 1986: Fig. 1341] and Group 2 [Núñez Jiménez 1986: Fig. 1240]) from Núñez Jiménez’ work that are more or less correct. His article about Checta (2011) will be thoroughly reviewed by me in this web page (some day).

Echevarría López, G. T. & E. Ruiz Alba. 2007.El Petrograbado de Chocas, Costa Central del Perú. In Rupestreweb.

Echevarría López, G. T. 2010.La quilca de Pucará, valle de Yangas, Lima. Boletín APAR. Vo. 2-6. pp 130 - 137. Lima, Perú.

Echevarría López, G. T. 2011. A tentative sequence and chronology for Checta, Peru. Rock Art Research. Vol. 28 / 2; pp 211 - 224. Melbourne, Australia.


The Nunez Jimenez Issue: Huancor

In November 2011 Echevarría López also accused me not being a scientist or an investigator: Ud. no es un científico o un investigador, porque desconoce o no quiere reconocer su propio efecto en los sitios arqueológicos, ... I already discussed the accusation of being damaging during my surveys, but now I feel the need to examine his remarks about me not being a scientist. To me a scientist is a person who investigates experimentally-empirically a certain case and evaluates that in a hypothesis. This hypothesis must be based on facts, checked by the scientist him- or herself. Any error renders the publication less credible or even completely unscientific.

Echevarría López now runs the risk to be much less credible as the ‘scientist’ he pretends to be, because of his (joint) publication about Huancor (2012). In 2013 APAR notably wrote (APAR Groups): El Boletín APAR o la Revista Quellca Rumi solicitan especialmente sus colaboraciones y hasta el presente han mantenido un estandar elevado de producción y publicación académica ... (my emphases). So, it would be very wise of Echevarría López not to quickly accuse someone of not being a scientist and simultaneously publishing a paper (about Huancor) that in my opinion does not have any scientific or academic value.

Notably, in August 2012 Gori Tumi Echevarría López (archaeologist associated with the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima and chairman of the Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre [APAR]) and Enzo Mora (associated with the Universidad Nacional de Ica in Ica) published a paper in Volume 3, No.12 of the Boletín APAR called: “Las quilcas de Huancor, nuevas hipótesis sobre su cronología y asociación cultural”.

In their article the authors present a hypothesis explaining the possible chronology of the petroglyph production at the rock art site of Huancor, which is located in the Province of Chincha (Department of Ica, Peru). Their suggested chronology heavily depends on their interpretation and assessment of a ‘Chavín-looking’ petroglyph from Huancor. To substantiate their arguments, the authors describe twelve panels, using photographs taken by Enzo Mora and drawings by Núñez Jiménez (1986).

I have published a paper (Van Hoek 2013) in which I comment on the article by Echevarría López & Mora for several reasons. One reason is that they have used several drawings published by Núñez Jiménez, while in an earlier paper published in Rupestreweb I have clearly demonstrated that more than 20 % of his drawings are inaccurate and/or incorrect. Therefore I wrote in my paper (Van Hoek 2012):

Sin embargo, todos los investigadores de arte rupestre moderno debe ser plenamente consciente de los riesgos cuando él o ella utiliza sin crítica (copias) de material ilustrativo del libro de Núñez Jiménez. En realidad, voy a criticar a cualquier investigador de arte rupestre que se acríticamente utilizar cualquier dibujo realizado por Antonio Núñez Jiménez, sin mencionar los riesgos, sobre todo después de mis comentarios se han publicado a través de mi libro (2011b).

The other reason concerns the fact that the authors prefer to completely ignore known facts and earlier publications and yet venture to publish a paper with so many flaws and errors as well as biased and uncorroborated statements that the scientific content becomes highly questionable.

Both remarks must be corroborated by me, of course. Therefore in my paper in Rupestreweb I commented on several issues, focussing on the use of the graphical material of Núñez Jiménez (1986), and the one-sided and incomplete view regarding the ‘Chavín-looking’ petroglyph from Huancor.


Echevarría López, G. T.  & E. Mora. 2012. Las quilcas de Huancor, nuevas hipótesis sobre su cronología y asociación cultural. In: Boletín APAR; Vol. 3, No 12. pp 449 - 461. Accessible on the internet, but also available as PDF-download from the APAR web site.

Van Hoek. M. 2013. Commenting on “Las quilcas de Huancor, nuevas hipótesis sobre su cronología y asociación cultural”. In Rupestreweb.