May 4, 2011

Paleolithic rock art found in Mañaria (Biscay)

Horse head (digitally enhanced)
Pileta de Prehistoria[es], citing El Correo[es], informs of the finding of a number of mural artworks in very poor state in the cave of Askondo (Mañaria, Biscay, Basque Country - locator map below). 

The artwork has been dated to c. 28-18,000 BP, most likely around 25,000 years ago, at the end of the Aurignacian (the article says Gravettian but this culture is much delayed in SW Europe than in Central Europe or Italy, with dates of c. 23 Ka. BP in the Cantabrian strip, almost overlapping with Solutrean [see update below]). It would be therefore older than Santimamiñe's art, which is of Magdalenian age. 

Hand prints (not enhanced)
The paintings are in very poor state, almost erased. While the cave is known since 1912, nobody had until now been able to identify these paintings because they did not know how to look

Biscay hosts four other caves known to have rock art: Santimamiñe, Arenaza, Venta Laperra and El Rincón.

Mañaria is located near the larger town of Durango (the original one), in the road to the mythical peak of Anboto, said to be one of the homes of Goddess Mari and her consort Sugaar.

Very important update:  most probably Gravettian.

Every day you learn something new. And today is no exception: Joseba explained to me at Pileta de Prehistoria, that my understanding of the Gravettian matter in Iberia is a bit obsolete and that there is nowadays a much improved understanding, pushing the dates far to the past until the pan-European earliest dates of c. 28 Ka. BP (which calibrated may be 34,000 real years).

He was so kind as to point me to the following papers:
Also he mentions the upcoming congress on this matter at Altamira Museum, on October 2011.

So it seems I was wrong on this matter and the paintings will in the end be Gravettian. I will probably post something more specific on this matter of Gravettian in the Iberian peninsula when I digest all these materials.

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