According to payhelpcenter, the world heritage includes around 700 sites in the eastern areas of Spain. Most of them date from the early Neolithic period from 6000 BC. The rock paintings give an insight into the living environment of the prehistoric people of the Spanish Levant. Animals, people, hunting and fighting scenes, dances and rituals are shown. The paintings illustrate the cultural development in prehistoric times.
Rock Art in Eastern Spain: Facts
|Official title:||Prehistoric rock art in eastern Spain|
|Cultural monument:||Over 700 sites of so-called »Levantine rock art« from the early Neolithic, especially battle and hunting scenes with men carrying bows and arrows, but also dances by women and rituals; i.a. a spearman in cave 9 of La Saltadora (Castellên) and (presumably) hinds running away in cave 5 of Cingle de la Gasulla (Castellên); Rock carvings of 5-6 cm in size as well as those of 50-60 cm|
|Country:||Spain, Catalonia, Andalusia, Murcia, Valencia, Aragên and Castile La Mancha|
|Location:||north of Murcia and west of Alicante, southwest of Valencia, north of Castellên de la Plana, south of Tarragona, west of Teruel|
|Meaning:||the most extensive group of petroglyphs in Europe, a pictorial reference to the cultural development on the Iberian Peninsula|
Rock Art in Eastern Spain: History
|around 6000 BC Chr.||first rock painting in the so-called Levante style|
|1903||Discovery of the first rock carvings in the east of the Iberian Peninsula|
|1971-76||first systematic project for the photographic documentation of rock drawings, including in Albarracín, La Valltorta, El Cogul, Cingle de la Gasulla|
|from 1992||Research project of the Centro de Estudios Históricos (Madrid) to digitize the photo archive of Spanish rock art|
Picture book of a six thousand year old culture
In numerous places along the eastern Spanish Mediterranean coast, the rock art offers us a unique insight into the life of the prehistoric people of the so-called Spanish Levant. The paintings were first mentioned by the poet Lope de Vega at the beginning of the 17th century, but then received no further attention. Even when, at the end of the 19th century, interested lay people from the eastern Spanish Mediterranean strip of the Levant reported about rock art, experts did not take notice.
In 1907 Juan Cabré published his discoveries of the deer paintings of Calapatá, and by the time Abbé Breuil, who was already well-known in Spain, published articles on the rock art of the Levant in the specialist press alongside Hugo Obermaier and the Spanish researchers P. Serrano and F. de Motos, it was already over a hundred rock art locations known. A year after Cabré’s publication, the paintings by El Cogul were discovered, and in 1924 Eduardo Hernández Pacheco made the findings of the Cueva de la Araña (Valencia) public. Due to the irregular stone structures, rock art from the Spanish Levant does not match the quality of cave art from the younger Paleolithic, which can be dated from 40,000 to around 10,000 BC. Her subjects, however, are noticeably livelier than the representations of the Franco-Cantabrian rock art.
Rock engravings were mostly just a kind of preliminary drawing, a sketch, a draft that had to be designed. The actual paintings, from tight outlines to full-colored area filling, were created with simple brushes or by inflating them with the colors red, black and, more rarely, white. Without the use of ocher, iron oxide, hematite, manganese oxide, cinnabar, kaolin and charcoal, this would not have been possible. Water, vegetable saps, blood, liquid honey, animal sebum and resin were probably used as binding agents. Multi-colored images were not created; Today’s finds with combinations of several colors emerged only through subsequent overpainting. The “Levant art” offers hardly any possibilities of comparison, not even with the “works of art” from the Paleolithic, if one should also place its roots there. Their stylistic independence is essentially based on the strong mobility of all individual figures and scenes. How formal correspondences in the representation of human figures with those of Africa came about has not yet been clarified. Based on numerous scientific works that have been published in Europe and overseas, one thing is certain: “Levant art” is the legacy of an early hunter people within a closed mountain area. Hunting scenes, which were supposed to represent religious ideas, were left under rock overhangs. Ceremonies may have been carried out in such places evoking the preservation of certain game species or their successful capture. Overpainting or additions to older pictures were given priority, to secure the magical power of what is depicted for a longer period of time. The body of the game and later domesticated wild animals was “drawn” from the side, while the horns, antlers and hooves were seen from the front. In addition to these “naturalistic animal paintings”, a warrior hit by arrows, archers in a fighting position and even an execution scene for posterity were left on the rock walls. A spider surrounded by flies, a honey collector attacked by wild bees, and a hunter fleeing from a wounded cattle have been painted on the rocks down to the smallest detail. In addition to these “naturalistic animal paintings”, a warrior hit by arrows, archers in a fighting position and even an execution scene for posterity were left on the rock walls. A spider surrounded by flies, a honey collector attacked by wild bees, and a hunter fleeing from a wounded cattle have been painted on the rocks down to the smallest detail. In addition to these “naturalistic animal paintings”, a warrior hit by arrows, archers in a fighting position and even an execution scene for posterity were left on the rock walls. A spider surrounded by flies, a honey collector attacked by wild bees, and a hunter fleeing from a wounded cattle have been painted on the rocks down to the smallest detail.
All of these early evidence of “fine art” have been badly affected by climatic changes and the accumulation of pollutants in the air, not to forget by willful damage.