The Petroglyphs on Ometepe
Ometepe is famous for its rich pre-Columbian past and belongs to the great rock art areas of the world. Ancient
petroglyphs (rock carvings) and stone statues have been found all over the island, along with sites containing ceramic urns, pottery and utensils.
The early Indians considered the island of Ometepe as their promised land. The Maderas was the sacred place of the sun, while the Concepcion was the brother of the moon.
Archeologists refer to Ometepe as the Island of circles and spirals due to the abstract curvilinear motifs carved on the basalt boulders.
Some motifs are highly stylized and intricately carved. The most common motif is the spiral.
Other motifs depict animals like lizards, crocodiles, turtles and frogs, or anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures.
Calendars were found on certain stones showing that the Indians knew 18 months, each with 20 days which made a year of 360 days. The oldest petroglyphs on Ometepe date back to around 1000 B.C.
Specific sites to see petroglyphs on Ometepe:
Petroglyphs and ancient pottery adorn many private museums, houses and hotels on Ometepe.
Some of the best places to see petroglyphs on their original location are at Hotel Finca Porvenir and on Finca Magdalena, both on the slopes of the volcano Maderas.
More petroglyphs can be found in San José de San Marcos, one of them depicting an eagle with opened wings. On the San Antonio farm, on a strip of land that juts into the Lake of Nicaragua, there are petroglyphs with circular, spiral, square and rectangular shapes. Others are found on the La Primavera farm, at the mouth of the Rio Buen Suceso. Near Cigüeña there is the Cross of the South on a medium size rock and nearby you find several images of animals. On the east coast of the Maderas cave paintings can be seen in Tichana, and more petroglyphs in Corazal.
Among the most important archeological sites are Tagüizapa and San Silvestre near Altagracia where four large stone idols have been found
and many more may be buried in the ground.
The museum in Altagracia shows some nice sculptures and petroglyphs. Some more big statues are found on the grounds of the old parroquial church. Also in Altagracia, in the Siloé Evangelic temple, is a stone engraved with an "X" and cross shapes. This stone was used by the natives for human sacrifices.
Many stone idols and petroglyphs have been carried away from Ometepe and are now in places like the museum in Managua, the Palacio Nacional de Nicaragua and farther away, in private collections and museums all over the world.
The private, archeological museum of La Ceiba in the Charco Verde Area has a large collection of pre-Columbian artefacts and offers guided tours.