Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Rock Art in Mexico

Deep in the Sierra de San Francisco of Baja California is a concentration of some of the world’s most extraordinary rock art sites. The so-called Great Mural paintings, made by hunters and gatherers before the arrival here of Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century. What makes the depictions of humans and animals on the walls and ceilings of rock shelters here so extraordinary is their size. In many instances they are larger than life. A group of these sites, in the Zona Arqueológica de la Sierra de San Francisco, were placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1993, and are open to the public. But these are not the only rock art sites in Mexico, and certainly not the only sites that are accessible to the public. Others may be easier to get to, but are in equally spectacular settings. The petroglyphs on the beach in La Meseta de Cacaxtla Protected Natural Area are one example. Crashing waves on the outcrop of volcanic basalt rock present a unique locale for viewing some 600 individual engraved images thought to be around 1,000 years old.

Rock Art Sites in Mexico

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Rock Art Museums in Mexico

National Museum of Anthropology

Opened in 1964, the Museo Nacional de Antropología is Mexico’s largest museum and contains an impressive collection of archaeological and anthropological material from across this culturally diverse country. Material on display comes from all of Mexico’s major heritage sites and ranges from the giant stone heads carved by the Olmecs to objects that ancient Maya had cast into the Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá. From a reproduction of Teotihuacan’s temple of the feathered serpent to reproductions of the great mural rock art of Sierra de San Francisco. The iconic Aztec Sun Stone recovered from Zócalo square in Mexico City is also on display in the museum.