Ica Stones

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By Brian Kufel

A Collection of Ica Stones [1]

The Ica Stones are a series of andesite stones supposedly dug up by Basilio Uschuya along with other farmers in the 1960s. They draw their name from the Ica province of Peru where they were supposedly found. The stones were notably collected and popularized by Dr. Javier Cabrera. [2] These stones depict anachronistic drawings, most famously extinct species. They have been used to prove the co-existence of humans and extinct species, advanced medical procedures, flying machines, and astronomical inventions in order to support larger narratives of a young earth or the existence of modern humans that interacted with and were guided by aliens. [3] These claims are made by young-earth creationists as well as ancient astronaut theorists. Uschuya has since admitted to manufacturing the stones in an interrogation by the Peruvian government, making them forgeries. [2]


An Ica Stone Depicting a Human Riding a Triceratops [4]

Although the modern history of Ica stones is dominated by forgeries that locals make to sell to tourists and collectors, there is a history of similar stone artifacts existing before European contact. These stones can date back to nearly 20,000 years ago and have a history of discovery by both archaeologists and laypeople since European contact. The stones were most commonly used as burial art. This means that ancient stone art does exist in museums and many more pieces of art are likely still buried. [2]

It is still true though that a thriving market for forgeries of this art exists and has existed since the 1960s. Theoretically, this isn't an issue as long as the recipients, usually tourists or curators, know that they are buying a replica or artistic interpretation. The sale of these contemporary art pieces may make nice souvenirs and they are often very well made by ancestors of the ancient stone creators. Unfortunately, problems have arisen in the past because modern Ica stones were passed off as prehistoric and pseudoarchaeological groups like young-earth creationists and ancient aliens followers subsequently used the modern stones as evidence of unscientific timelines. [3]

Most notable for their propagation of Ica stones as evidence for reinterpretations of the past is Javier Cabrera. Cabrera first started collecting Ica stones in the 1960s and has generated a large collection of tens of thousands. One particularly important supplier is Basilio Uschuya. Uschuya is a farmer that had claimed to find authentic prehistoric stones depicting extinct animals and many other anachronistic details. These stones were then sold to Cabrera who analyzed then spoke about the implications of the stones. [5]

The first group to recognize and accept the Ica stones was the ancient astronaut community. They quickly disseminated information about the Ica stones. This drew the attention of many and eventually the BBC televised a show critical of the Ica stones. The Peruvian press and authorities saw this international discourse and arrested Basilio Uschuya to question him. He very quickly admitted to faking his stones to sell to Cabrera and others, but he did not intend for such a dramatic international effect. Cabrera along with many others has not accepted that all the stones depicting anachronistic drawings are modern due to the large quantities of them. [2]

Cabrera now owns a museum where he displays all his stones and many still seek to verify the time period of stones that depict anachronistic items in order to justify claims to a different timeline than the accepted archaeological one. [5]

Major Proponents

Although many different people have theorized about the validity and implications of the Ica stones, these three people have played the biggest roles in the creation and development of the pseudoarchaeological narratives surrounding the Ica stones.

Basilio Uschuya

Basilio Uschuya is a Peruvian farmer credited with the finding or creating of many Ica stones and the greater distribution of Ica stone theorization through his sale of many thousands of them to Dr. Javier Cabrera in the 1960s. He had claimed that these stones were found in caves in great quantities and that local farmers have found many more of these andesite stones. It is true that many other farmers have come forward with other stones that they often sold to collectors Dr. Cabrera or tourists. The caves in which the stones were said to be found were never named by the farmers nor examined by any archaeologists, but still many claimed that there were hundreds of thousands of Ica stones still in caves. [2]

Uschuya did not generally involve himself in the propagation of the narratives around the stones and preferred to just sell them. This changed dramatically after the publication of these stones by Javier Cabrera sparked interest in ancient astronaut and creationist communities. The publishing of many pseudoarchaeological books led to the creation of a BBC TV series that was critical of the Ica stones. That drew attention from the Peruvian press and authorities which arrested Uschuya and questioned him. At this point, he admitted to forging the stones and selling them in order to profit but noted that he never intended for the consequences to reach farther than some sales to tourists and museum curators. Despite admitting to faking the stones, Uschuya still made and sold many more Ica stones after the interrogation. [2]

Javier Cabrera

Dr. Javier Cabrera is a Peruvian doctor that is widely credited with the discovery of the Ica stones due to his dissemination of information about his collection and interpretations of Ica stones. As a doctor, Dr. Cabrera was very accomplished. He worked as a professor and the head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Lima. These credentials helped his claims of advanced medical procedures occurring in the art of Ica stones. [2]

On his forty-second birthday, Dr. Cabrera was shown pictures of Ica stones by a friend and he quickly became engrossed in the examination and collection of these artifacts. Even before Dr. Cabrera's "discoveries", he had a great amount of interest in the pre-history of Peru. With Ica stones though, his interest was truly piqued. His collection by the late 1970s was estimated to be over 10,000 stones large. As early as the late 1960s, Cabrera was sharing information about his stones to anyone who would listen. The stones were of particular interest to Erich Von Daniken and other ancient astronaut theorists who quickly adopted these stones and developed a narrative to be included in the overarching narrative of ancient astronaut lore. [2]

After Basilio Uschuya's admission to forgery, Dr. Cabrera continued to advocate for the validity of the Ica stones. He claims that some stones were manufactured, but a great deal of them are real and the forgeries merely copied the real ones. Despite the admission of Von Daniken, now a friend of Cabrera, that the stones were likely fake, Cabrera has continued to collect and create grand hypotheses about the Ica stones. These include new assertions about the ancient people who allegedly made the stones that he refers to as "gliptoliths". [2]

In 1996 Javier Cabrera created the Museo de Cabrera in Ica, Peru. This museum hosts over 10,000 stones and is considered by Cabrera to be an essential legacy. The museum still operates to this day and Cabrera has never accepted the confession of Uschuya. [2]

Erich Von Daniken

Erich Von Daniken is perhaps the most influential pseudoarchaeologist of this time period. His best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? is the most influential piece of ancient astronaut writing ever made. Von Daniken did not stop at a single book though. He is certainly a prolific author with over thirty published books regarding ancient astronauts. He has also helped inspire many creatives that further spread and continue to spread his message. He has been involved in the production of many shows and movies including Ancient Aliens and a movie named after his most popular book Chariots of the Gods?. His evidence is wide-ranging throughout his books going from Easter Island to Indian myths to Mayan temples. [6]

In making Chariots of the Gods?, Von Daniken generated a lot of interest in the prospect of ancient alien visitors which in turn spawned a slate of new books. Many of those books contained the Ica stones and interpretations of them. In this way, Von Daniken is responsible for the broad use and attention given to the stones. When Uschuya admitted to forging the stones Von Daniken did admit that the Ica stones were most likely fake, although he still kept in touch with Cabrera, was interesting in his opinions and findings, and considered him a friend. [2]

Pseudoarchaeological Narratives

The narratives around these stones changes depending on the overarching claims that a specific theorist is trying to make. Generally, these overarching claims can be split into two groups, young-earth creationists, and ancient astronaut believers. The narratives of these two groups draw on the Ica stones as evidence but make dramatically different claims. Young-earth creationists generally use the stones to discredit scientific timelines in favor of biblical ones while ancient astronaut supporters have developed a large narrative involving a much longer human history with alien contact. The variance in conclusions does show that these stones by themselves do not necessarily prove a single interpretation, but if accepted as true, they do invalidate the work of Archaeology.

Ancient Astronauts

Ancient astronaut theorists were the first group to popularize the use of Ica stones as pseudoarchaeological evidence. It fits into their narrative in one of many different ways depending on the author.

Firstly, the writers may say that knowledge of dinosaurs, surgery, flying machines, or anything else depicted on a stone is evidence that aliens gave prehistoric humans knowledge of these creatures or objects. The idea is that the only way for humans to have been able to draw these Ica stones in the past would be for a scientifically advanced civilization to simply say what historical animals or mechanical devices looked like. Esoteric archaeologists also often point to the inability of stone tools to carve andesite as evidence that aliens must have helped in creating the Ica stones. [7]

Another more radical reinterpretation of the past is that humans have actually lived for millions of more years than previously expected and that they were guided by astronauts. This is supported most by Ica stones depicting dinosaurs as the proponent of this idea believes that the only reason the dinosaurs would be recorded is a personal experience with them. The guidance by astronauts is also justified by the advanced surgeries and mechanisms depicted in the stones which the astronauts presumably taught humans, but this is not unique to this narrative. [5]

One claim that is often used to justify belief in Ica stones as real historical artifacts is the sheer amount of them. Purveyors of this narrative say that with the thousands upon thousands of stones in personal collections, some must be candid depictions of anachronistic elements from prehistory. [2]

Young Earth Creationism

Although this branch of interpretation is more recent than the ancient astronaut hypotheses, the power of the narrative generated by the stones cannot be understated. The Ica stones if proven true would be all the evidence necessary to delegitimize the accepted scientific timeline of human emergence and development. The stones depicting dinosaurs themselves represent impossibilities under evolutionary and archaeological models which young-earth creationists cannot abide by. The logic is simply that if the Ica stones are legitimate, the scientific timeline is false, and the stones are legitimate, therefore the scientific timeline is false. [8] This explains why much focus is put on verifying the validity of the Ica stones. Many different tests have been used to examine Ica stones including patina tests and metallurgical examinations. [9]

The idea of dinosaurs not only denigrates scientific timelines, but it also supports the idea that since the earth is so young, there couldn't have been different eras, so humans must have lived alongside dinosaurs and other now-extinct animals. Additionally, under biblical literalism God made all animals after humans, so humans should coexist with extinct animals at some point. The Ica stones support those claims by giving evidence of extinct animals drawn by humans. [9]

One of the most common arguments given by creationists is that stones found in South America by archaeologists are accepted as true without verification, but those found by non-archaeologists are treated as fake. This ignores the burgeoning market for fakes that are sold to tourists as souvenirs and accuses archaeologists of hypocrisy that fills museums while disallowing others the same luxury. [9]

Some creationists have since stopped the usage of the Ica stones in debate and outreach due to the public knowledge of the common forgeries. These people do not necessarily accept that the stones are forgeries, but they do understand that the questionable validity of the Ica stones makes them no longer useful. [8]

Archaeological Evaluation

Unfortunately, not much field archaeology was done to dispute the claims of purveyors of Ica stones. Since the stones are andesite and no biological material is contained within them, no carbon dating could be applied to the rocks. Often biological materials in layers where artifacts are found are used to determine the age of artifacts, but in this case, the caves where the stones were supposedly found were never revealed. Additionally, even if many different stones were dated, those who displayed non-dated stones could just claim that theirs were real while accepting all the tested ones were hoaxes. Overall, this would not be a wise use of resources and was impeded by the non-disclosure of cave sites, so no archaeologist took up the endeavor. [5]

It is possible to test the stones by other means, but they are prone to abuse. Cabrera himself had some of his stones tested by a friend and mining engineer, Eric Wolf, who stated that the wear on the stones was consistent with many thousands of years of weathering. This is problematic as the rocks themselves may be very old with the engravings only happening recently. [2]

After the admission by Basilio Uschuya that the Ica stones he sold were faked there was no longer an urgent reason for archaeologists to investigate Ica stones that depicted anachronistic drawings. The difficulty of verifying their validity and the flood of faked tourist souvenirs made a comprehensive study of Ica stones nearly impossible. Some authentic stone artworks are still displayed, but in general, the source of those artifacts has had to be verified. For example, the Ica Museum was forced to remove many stone carvings given to them from Santiago Calvo that they had thought to be real before the widespread dissemination of Cabrera's interpretations. [2] Overall, the admission of forgery has caused a widespread cessation of citation of the Ica stones. Even some creationist groups have stopped using them, not that they admit that the stones were faked, but because of the overwhelming public consensus of their illegitimacy. [8]


  1. Sceptigirl (photographer), "IMG_1252", Ancient World Image Bank (New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2009-) <https://www.flickr.com/photos/30443314@N02/2851796125/>, used under terms of a Creative Commons Attribution license.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Coppens, F. (2008, August 27). Jurassic library—The Ica Stones. Forean Times. https://web.archive.org/web/20080827173630/http://forteantimes.com/features/articles/259/jurassic_library_the_ica_stones.html
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kershner, K. (2015, April 7). Are the Ica stones authentic? HowStuffWorks. https://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/unexplained-phenomena/are-ica-stones-authentic.html
  4. Camero, Christian (photographer), "ica_stone_lg", Ancient World Image Bank (New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2009-) <https://www.flickr.com/photos/chcrai/8964821064/>, used under terms of a Creative Commons Attribution license.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Carroll, R. T. (1994). Ica Stones. The Skeptic’s Dictionary. http://skepdic.com/icastones.html
  6. Epstein, S. (n.d.). “Scholars Will Call It Nonsense”: The Structure of Erich Von Daniken’s Argument. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/scholars-will-call-it-nonsens/
  7. Alt, K. (2012, January 22). Skepticism Surrounds Ica Stones. Exploring Life’s Mysteries. https://www.exploringlifesmysteries.com/ica-stones/
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Doyle, S. (2016, October 1). Ica stones bad arguments. https://creation.com/ica-stones-bad-arguments
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Swift, D. (n.d.). Can the Ica Stones be Independently Authenticated? [Genesis Park]. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.genesispark.com/essays/can-the-ica-stones-be-independently-authenticated/, https://www.genesispark.com/essays/can-the-ica-stones-be-independently-authenticated/