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La Espiral Cave (Cuba): Guano and signs of Plant Substances Used as Paint Ingredients

Abstract

At La Espiral cave, located in Bahia Honda municipality (Artemisa province, Cuba), there are several pictographs, including two of particular importance due to the design used: one of concentric circles and another of a spiral. We analyzed the pigments and binders used in one of these pictographs. The chemical ingredients of the paint are considered in this article, as well as the use of bat guano as a major pigment compound. The apparent presence of ellagic acid, ellagitannin, or anthocyanins would strengthen the hypothesis that artists used vegetable protein as a paint binder or solvent.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to earnestly thank several friends and colleagues for their support and constant and unconditional cooperation to the benefit of the studies of cave pictographs and give our thanks to Hilario Carmenate Rodríguez, member of the Cuban Rock Art Research Group in Pinar del Rio; to the friends of the “Origen” Group of the Cuban Speleological Society, especially to its president Jean Robaina Sánchez; and to Joao G. Martínez López and to Dr. Ramona Oviedo Prieto, from the Institute of Ecology and Systematics of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. We would also like to acknowledge Dimitri Sansonov Leal for his assistance in the translation of this article and particularly Julia Calzadilla for her endeavors and dedication in the translation of this paper and also Raúl Mesa who checked some points in the English text. And finally, we would like to give our thanks to Dr. Vernon James Knight from College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Board Fellow, from the University of Alabama for the several revisions.

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Correspondence to Racso Fernández.

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Fernández, R., Morales, D., Mas, M. et al. La Espiral Cave (Cuba): Guano and signs of Plant Substances Used as Paint Ingredients. J Archaeol Method Theory 25, 289–305 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-017-9329-z

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Keywords

  • Pigments
  • Guano
  • Binder/solvent
  • Pictograph
  • Quercus
  • Juglans