Spain’s oldest cave art is discovered at altitude

PREHISTORIC cave art has been found at the highest-known altitude in Spain, at 2,200 metres (7,218 feet) above sea-level. These are also the northern-most cave drawings ever discovered in the country, and unearthed inside two niches in the mountains of the Góriz Valley – part of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park in the province of Huesca, Aragón, in the Spanish Pyrénées.

Javier Rey, co-director of the archaeological project, says the coloured carvings date back to the Neolithic era, which means they are about 7,000 years old, and would have been created between 4000 and 5000 BC.

He believes the drawings are in keeping with what is known as “schematic Iberian art”, which, typically, features very simple symbols, depicting typical scenes from the authors’ life and economic activity.

The human figure and animals in these are the main subjects, and are shown in hunting and livestock-herding scenes. According to the details of the paintings studied by the archaeological team, who include members of the High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and Barcelona Autonomous University (UAB), the original artists were probably shepherds, who were in the cave area in summer when they could take advantage of the lush grass for grazing.

Permanent, year-round settlements in Pyrénéen caves, given the altitude, would have been impossible, because it was too cold, and the grass was too sparse to feed the animals.

During the warmer weather, shepherds and other livestock farmers used these caves as shelter for themselves and their herds.

Their paintings are at different stages of conservation, although they are nearly all clear enough to identify their subjects easily.

Those less-well preserved have simply lost some of their colour, which is predominantly black, white and a red-orange tone.

Cave paintings are frequent in Spain, especially in the provinces closest to the Mediterranean, although the most striking feature of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido art is its altitude, since it is evidence of the presence of human populations at the peaks of the Pyrénées, thousands of years ago.

The group have been prospecting the site since 2015, during which time they have documented numerous settlements from different historical eras, one of which, in Fanlo, is 1,650 metres (5,413 feet) above sea-level.


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Posted by on Mar 29 2019. Filed under Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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