At the foot of the Serra da Capivara National Park and just 5 km from the Nature Museum, discover the village of Sítio do Mocó, in the backlands of Piauí.

Despite the great importance of the discoveries found in this region, little is said about the attractions of the backlands of Piauí. For some years now, a select group of researchers and tourists have been attracted to discover the beauties and mysteries of the region of Serra da Capybara.

Between the valleys and the immense rocky walls, Sítio do Mocó is a small village that belongs to the current municipality of Coronel José Dias, one of the 13 districts of Saint Raimundo Nonato which was recently disbanded.

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The village is the closest support point to the entrance to the Serra da Capivara National Park and Pedra Furada, one of the emblematic tourist spots of the Piauí hinterland. It is also in Pedra Furada where iconic events such as the Serra da Capivara Opera House, a music and projection show that shows the history of the inhabitants who lived in this part of the Piauí.

There are about 70 families living at the foot of the Serra Talhada, overlooking the gray rock mountains covered by the caatinga. During the rainy season, the dry vegetation gives way to a dense green forest, bringing together several species of birds, transmuting the local landscape into a flowery garden, with thick trees, cacti and rocks of different shapes.

The intact geological formations show the passage of time and man through this region. Before, the humid tropical climate, similar to that of the Atlantic Forest, was favorable for the existence of large prehistoric animals, called megafauna.

Rock formations in the Serra da Capivara National Park. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Unlikely species such as the saber-toothed tiger, the giant sloth and the colossal mastodon, a species of mammoth extinct about 11,000 years ago, roamed these thriving regions of present-day northeastern Brazil.

Prehistoric fossils found in the Serra da Capivara region are exposed in the American Man Museum, in São Raimundo Nonato and in the Nature Museum, inside the Serra da Capivara National Park. These discoveries, in addition to the more than 30 thousand cave paintings preserved and exposed for visitation, prove the great archaeological wealth found in this part of Piauí, considered the region with the highest concentration of cave paintings in the world.

Due to the large amount of fossils, paintings and relics, it is possible to say that the civilizations that lived in this region in ancient times were already formed by large communities that lived together collectively, somewhat similar to the society we know today.

Aerial view of Sítio do Mocó, Serra da Capivara. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Serra da Capivara: viewpoints of the Piauí caatinga. Photo: Gustavo Albano

The Mystery of the Paintings

In the paintings we can see records of hunting in groups, men playing, people lined up one on top of the other, ritual scenes, sex and so many other manifestations that can guarantee us that for more than 10 thousand years man has already had a curious and unique type of intelligence and I live in a group.

It is not known for sure what the purpose of the paintings was at the time. Some believe that it was to record the daily lives of the communities, others believe that it was a way of passing on knowledge to the next generations, showing ways to hunt some animals, dances, group rituals and many other activities.

Cave paintings found near Sítio do Mocó. Photo: Gustavo Albano

The paintings show the daily life of prehistoric peoples. Photo: Gustavo Albano

There are more than a thousand cave paintings in the Park region. Photo: Gustavo Albano

One of the Park's best-known and trademark paintings. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Dozens of archaeological sites are open for guided tours. Photo: Gustavo Albano

first discoveries

It all started in the early 1970s, when a group of archaeologists led by researcher Niède Guidon began searching for vestiges of prehistoric men in this region, after the mayor at the time took some photographs of cave paintings found at the site.

In 1978, with the support of the France, initiated academic missions to recognize and study the region. Over time, the partnership was consolidated into a union between the two nations, after decades of joint research, in recent years the Mission Archeology of Piaui, bringing together French institutions and universities from all over Brazil for field experiences and archaeological excavations.

Zuzu skull dated at over 9,000 years old. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Zuzu skull on display at the Museum of American Man. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Projectile found in one of the excavations, probably used for hunting. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Prehistoric slides on display at the Museum of American Man. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Human bones found in Serra da Capivara Park. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Where to stay in Sítio do Mocó?

In Sítio do Mocó there is the Pedra Furada Campsite, less than 200 meters from the main church. Visitors can stay in private rooms or camp in tents or motorhome. The campsite has a simple structure, but offers all the necessary amenities for accommodation. The place offers Wi-Fi, shared kitchen, breakfast and a spacious area to receive larger groups.

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Where to stay in Serra da Capivara: Sítio do Mocó or São Raimundo Nonato

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