Ometepe Island | Isla Ometepe

Ometepe Island is an island composed of a pair of Volcanoes rising up from Nicaragua’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua.

Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas are linked by a narrow isthmus, combining the two volcanoes into an island of 276 square kilometers.

Volcán Concepción (once called Ometepec) is a beautiful symmetrical cone-shaped volcano, which is still active. That side of the island is currently the most populated and has been the focus of virtually all of the past archaeological work, although it apparently contains few petroglyphs since its eruptions have been primarily ash flows.

The Ometepe Petroglyph Project has explored the area to the north of the Volcán Maderas. With the assistance of numerous volunteers in the last three years, we have to date recorded 73 sites and over 1400 boulders with petroglyphs (almost 1700 petroglyph panels).

Map of Ometepe Island in Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua, the Island, and prehistoric settlements

Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Latin America. Naturally its shores and islands were a focus of much prehistoric as well as historic settlement. Isla Ometepe is the largest island in the lake. It has been known since the 19th century to be relatively rich in pre-Columbian sites, artifacts, and a monumental sculptural tradition and to contain numerous petroglyphs, but prior to our work there had never been a systematic site inventory, much less systematic petroglyph recording on the island. We know from excavations conducted by J.F. Bransford in the early 1880s and by Wolfgang Haberland, a German archaeologist, in the late 1960s that there has probably been settlement on the island since at least 800 B.C. and perhaps as early as 2000 B.C. There appears to have been various incursions by different groups over the millennia. Which group or groups were responsible for making the petroglyphs is presently unknown. Ometepe has generally been included within the Greater Nicoya Archaeological Subarea as proposed by Norweb (1964) and more specifically within the northern sector, as defined by Lange (1984; 1992), which is restricted to Pacific Nicaragua. — Suzanne Baker, The Petroglyphs of Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

The Project Area


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