Spanish Cave Reveals 5,000-Year-Old Engravings


| LAST UPDATE 03/27/2023

By Stanley Wickens
Tarragona Spain cave engravings
Brady Knoll via Pexels

Archaeologists from the Catalan Institute for Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution have found over 100 engravings dating back as far as 5,000 years in the city of Tarragona, Spain. This amazing discovery was made in the Cova de la Vila cave, where the engravings were found arranged on an 8-metre long panel inside the cave.

According to IPHES expert Ramón Viñas, these murals represent the worldview of the first farming communities of the Copper-Bronze age. This discovery is “extraordinary both because of their singularity and their excellent state of preservation.”The regional government of Catalonia said the discovery of the cave art is one of the few representations of subterranean schematic art in the entire Mediterranean Arc. The depictions found in the Mediterranean underground gallery are truly exceptional, consisting of representations of different figures such as quadrupeds, zigzags, linear, angular, and circular lines, and a number of zoomorphs (possibly bovids and horses), star shapes, and reticular lines.

cave engraving prehistoric archaeology
cottonbro studio via Pexels
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The discovery marks “a historic landmark for prehistoric archeology” as per the IPHES. The cave was explored by Salvador Vilaseca in the 1940s, but its location was lost. However, IPHES researchers managed to dig a small hole between the stone blocks and entered an oval room larger than 90 square metres. The first person to walk in was Juli Serrano, who was surprised to see “a mural full of lines and shapes.” He says he felt “a tremendous feeling that I will carry with me for life” when he came to the big, round space and saw what was inside. He had unwittingly discovered one of the most important assemblages of prehistoric cave art. From then on, researchers Ramon Viñas and Josep Vallverdú from IPHES started working on the site.

Viñas highlighted how the engraving panel is structured along five consecutive horizontal lines and contains different carved figures, each with its own meaning and symbolism. The scientist points out that it is an “absolutely unusual” composition, showing “a worldview of the population of the region during the process of neolithization.” To protect the site, the regional government has closed access to the Sala dels Gravats (Engraving Room), and it has been designated a cultural property of national interest. Work is underway to create a 3D model of the cave. It's heartwarming to see how the discovery has been appreciated, recognized and is being protected.

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