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SIARB: organization to investigate the rock art of South America

The Bolivian Rock Art Research Society SIARB (Sociedad de Investigación del Arte Rupestre de Bolivia) was founded in January 1987. Its main objectives are: investigation and recording of rock paintings and petroglyphs, protection and conservation of rock art sites, as well as publication of scientific reports and education of the general public. SIARB has registered more than 1,000 sites in all departments of the country though mainly in the Andean region. Rock art in Bolivia has a very long tradition, apparently beginning in the Archaic, and continued up to the Colonial and Republican periods. Numerous sites are still worshipped by present-day indigenous people who regard them as sacred places, make offerings and perform rites there.

In SIARB projects, recording of sites by rock art experts, investigation by professional archaeologists, conservation and administration, as well as public education programs are equally important.

SIARB is a founding member of the International Federation of Rock Art Organization (IFRAO) and maintains contact with many international investigators and institutions.

SIARB’s Board of Directors consists of: President, Lic. Freddy Taboada (La Paz) – Secretary, Dr. Claudia Rivera (La Paz) – Treasurer, Lic. Pilar Lima (La Paz) –Editor, Matthias Strecker (La Paz) –  regional representatives and collaborators in the departments of Potosí, Oruro, Santa Cruz, and Tarija, as well as in other countries (Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Central America).

Ongoing research: Research and documentation projects are under way in several departments of Bolivia.

Rock art protection and conservation: SIARB has developed a policy for the conservation of sites taking into account the experience of international colleagues and considering such factors as the low educational level of the majority of the population, and the limited budget of cultural agencies.

  • SIARB’s Code of Ethics obliges its members to respect the integrity of sites and not reveal their exact location to the public; it bans all potentially destructive recording methods.
  • An education campaign is directed at children, students and the general public (see below).
  • An efficient low-cost project to protect a site by impeding access of visitors to a rock art panel has been realized in the national park of Torotoro, Dept. of Potosí.
  • SIARB has collaborated with the archaeological parks of
    • Copacabana (La Paz: signboards, flyer),
    • Calacala (Oruro: construction of visitors’ platform, flyer),
    • Samaipata (Santa Cruz: flyer)
    • Paja Colorada (Santa Cruz: construction of fence, conservation work, training of guides, infrastructure, booklet),
    • Incamachay-Pumamachay (Chuquisaca: construction of fence and infrastructure, conservation work, training of guides, video, booklet),  
    • Betanzos (Potosí: conservation work, training of guides, infrastructure, booklet).
    • Peñas (La Paz: conservation work, training of guides, infrastructure, booklet).
    • Roboré (Santa Cruz, ongoing project).
    • Orozas (Tarija, current project).
  • Community involvement is an important factor in these projects.
  • In May 2002, SIARB received the Conservation and Preservation Award by the American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA), USA.

Education campaign: SIARB has organized three major rock art exhibitions, one of which toured ten cities, as well exhibits on local rock art in several regional museums. It published a flyer on rock art for children (partly modeled after the children’s brochure by ARARA/USA) in Spanish and Aymara, and a CD with an introduction to Bolivian archaeology and rock art for students.

International conferences: SIARB has organized 11 international conferences which took place in Bolivia (Cochabamba 1988, La Paz 1989, Santa Cruz 1991, Cochabamba 1997, Tarija 2000, La Paz 2012), Argentina (Jujuy 2003, Tucumán 2010), Chile (Arica 2006, La Serena 2018), and Brazil (Teresina 2014).

Publications: SIARB publishes an annual international journal, Boletín (registered in Latindex), and the series Contribuciones al Estudio del Arte Rupestre Sudamericano (Spanish with English summaries). In the Spanish section of this web site you will find a complete list of our publications, as well as many articles, our latest issues of the annual Boletín and a book on rock art of East Mexico and Central America, which can all be downloaded free of charge.

Library and archives: SIARB’s library (some 18,000 titles) and rock art archives are accessible to students and researchers.

Please address your correspondence to:

SIARB, Matthias Strecker, La Paz, Bolivia      (Tel.: +591-2-2711809, e-mail: