Toro Muerto

Toro Muerto is an enormous boulder field in the desert overlooking the floodplain of the river Majes (Colca) to the east. It is located some 150km west of Arequipa. It is said that there are more than 5000 engraved boulders at this site and it is therefore impossible to survey them all if you do not have weeks to spare at this hot, windy and sandy hill slope.

The site is officially protected, but many stones, especially those near the “entrance” are severely damaged. It is hoped that a more adequate protection is enforced upon this site.

Most characteristic are the so-called “dancers” that occur singly, in pairs and in rows. There is a part of a row of four “dancers” that clearly show the possibly masked faces with “tears” from the eyes and with plumes or feathers. The figures basically are zigzag-shaped. Zigzags and straight lines are another specific feature of Toro Muerto. Several form “walls of lines”, sometimes one or two metres high. Paired figures occur frequently at Toro Muerto, also animals are frequently seen in opposed positions, mainly facing each other. There are more birds and especially foxes that are found facing each other.

Also the feline is one of the most frequently depicted animals.
Animals are dominating the imagery at Toro Muerto. There are many snakes, some even several metres in length. The open beak is a typical feature of many animals.

Although not so prominently present, there are many images of camelids, either singly or in rows and often associated with people or mythical beings. Also clusters of camelids occur, enclosed by a groove, which seems to represent animals in a corral. Toro Muerto has many engravings of birds, depicted in several postures.

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