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12 Prehistoric Rock Paintings of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles Jay B. Haviser Prehistoric Rock Art Research Dominee G. Bosch, as part of his notes concerning a visit to the island in 1836, was the first to mention Bonairean rock paintings (Bosch 1836:219). Father Antonius J. van Koolwijk’s 1875 sketches of the Onima pictographs constitute the earliest documentation of Bonairean prehistoric rock paintings .Shortly thereafter,Karl Martin (1888:134) noted that Bonaire possessed two pictograph sites, one at Onima and the other at what is today known as Playa Druifi.He further noted a similarity between these drawings and those he had seen in Guyana and the Orinoco region. In 1907, Paul A. Euwens published the 1875 drawings by Koolwijk and referred to these drawings as “hieroglyphic writings” (Euwens 1907:194). In 1916, H. ten Kate also believed he detected actual letters in the Bonaire drawings, from sketches, not actual observations, yet he attributed the drawings to Arawakan (prehistoric Caribbean) people (Kate 1916:544). Almost 30 years later, in 1941 and 1943, Father O. Paul Brenneker wrote two short articles about the rock drawings of Bonaire. In his 1941 report Brenneker identified seven pictograph sites on the island, at Spelonk, Grita Cabaai, Kasimati (Kaomati), and four locations at Ceroe Pungi/Ceroe Plat, or the Onima/Fontein area. In 1943, he published sketches of the drawings at the additional site of Pos Calbas. In partial response to Brenneker’s work, Willem van de Poll (1950:169) wrote a newspaper article about the Spelonk site, in addition to compiling a photographic report in NosTera (van de Poll 1952:93). Karl Maier, R. Lemminga, Arnoldo Broeders, and P. Wagenaar Hummelinck (see Hummelinck 1972:1) photographed additional painted images in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. In 1953, Hummelinck began what would become a comprehensive and professional four-volume series concerning the rock drawings of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire. In Volume 1, Hummelinck (1953) mentions the background of previous investigations 162 / Haviser and provides certain information about the Fontein and Pos Calbas sites on Bonaire. Hans Feriz’s (1959) inventory of the Onima and Spelonk pictographs includes a comment that the drawings were similar to Mayan glyphs.Ten years later,Charles Lacombe stated in a newspaper interview with Richard Pothier (1970) that he had identified two or three Mayan hieroglyphics from Onima, yet Lacombe never published any scientific report to back his claim. Investigating the Lacombe statement, Hummelinck contacted Alan Craig, who was also mentioned in the newspaper article.Craig reported to Hummelinck that he was unconvinced the markings were Mayan glyphs (Hummelinck 1972:11), an opinion shared by Hummelinck and me. Hummelinck’s Volume 1 (1953) of the aforementioned rock art series listed only seven pictograph sites for Bonaire.Volumes 2 and 3 (Hummelinck 1957, 1961) contained no mention of Bonairean locations, while Volume 4, published in 1972, included 14 rock painting sites for Bonaire. Other brief mentions of Bonairean pictograph sites are found in Hartog (1978:10–11), Nooyen (1979:22, 1985:10–11), and Hummelinck (1979). In 1992,Hummelinck recompiled his 1972 inventory into one of the most thorough studies thus far of rock art sites for the island. Dubelaar referred to the Hummelinck listings in his 1995 compendium of Lesser Antillean rock art sites (Dubelaar 1995). During my own field survey of Bonaire in 1987 (Haviser 1991),combined with subsequent reassessments (Haviser 2007), all of Hummelinck’s (1992) pictograph sites, except for Kaomati (B1) and Santa Barbara (B13), were reidentified . One possible new site was identified at Barcadera (B-78). No carved images or petroglyph sites have been confirmed for Bonaire (Haviser 1991;Hummelinck 1972, 1992). Prehistoric Origins of Rock Art Archaic Age people settled on Bonaire around 1300 b.c. (Haviser 2001), followed by ceramic-producing groups ca.a.d. 500.Both groups derived from a movement out of the Orinoco River basin into northwesternVenezuela and the various coastal Caribbean islands, though much later than in the areas to the east (see Hayward, Atkinson, and Cinquino, Introduction, this volume). Within Venezuela, all of the known prehistoric rock painting sites have a very specific and limited areal distribution. Pictograph locations are found (1) downstream along the Orinoco River and along the Apure,Guanare,and Portugesa rivers that branch into northwestern Venezuela; (2) downstream of the Tocuyo, Aroa, and Yaracuy rivers that drain into the Caribbean Sea; and (3) downstream from the Carache River to Lake Maracibo. Migrating people clearly carried their rock painting traditions as part of their cultural Prehistoric...


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