The Manu National Park is home to diverse wildlife, ecosystems and peoples. However, it is also the home to a mystery. The petroglyphs of pusharo. These mysterious carvings are set to be investigated by a group of scientists on the Pantiacolla expedition next year.
The petroglyphs are a set of carvings on a vertical rock face located on the banks of the River Palatoa. They are extensive and contain many different symbols including the repeated ‘Pusharo face’, an abstract, heart-shaped face, which is featured several times, and wavy lines which could represent either snakes or rivers.
The carvings have stubbornly defied all attempts at explanation, for one thing it is not certain who is responsible for creating them. Today most researchers believe that they were carved by one or more unknown indigenous groups, though others think that the Incas had something to do with them, whether by directly carving them or by influencing those who did.
As well as not knowing the origins of the petroglyphs no one really knows what they mean either, though of course there are various competing interpretations. Some think they are a map to help wandering groups find their way, that they were produced under the influence of hallucinogenic plants or that they depict the heavens. It has even been suggested that they point the way to the lost city of Paititi, an El Dorado like place which has so far defeated all attempts to discover it.
The mystery of these carvings seems unlikely to ever be solved, but speculation will surely continue, and more researchers will venture into the rainforest in an attempt to discover their full meaning.