7,000-year-old cave paintings discovered in Alicante’s Penáguila caves

Image of the University of Alicante.

Image of the University of Alicante. Credit: User:Luca83/Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Neolithic paintings dating back around 7,000 years have been discovered in several caves in the Alicante municipality of Penáguila.

This incredible find was uncovered by archaeologists linked to the University of Alicante as part of a pioneering project in which three researchers participated, with the assistance of a drone.

Thanks to the use of this small unmanned aerial device, the team was able to view the interior of almost inaccessible mountain shelters. As a result, they made one of the first discoveries of prehistoric cave paintings in the region.

The team carried out their work in the area of ​​the Castellet-Barranc del Salt ravine and Port de Penáguila. Utilising the drone, they succeeded in photographing and recording videos of the walls of cavities in 18 shallow shelters.

This facilitated the discovery of paintings in two of them, whose first results have been published in one of the best archaeology journals of the Iberian Peninsula, in the XLII number of Lvcentvm.

Among the new cavities discovered with the drone, the one located in El Salt stands out. It was found to be the home of a large number of painted figures belonging to the Levantine style.

They contained superimpositions, specifically female anthropomorphs and archers, as well as deer and goats, some wounded with arrows, as reported by 20minutos.es.

There were other representations painted in a schematic style that were more difficult to interpret but that are equally important since their detailed study will contribute to understanding how rock art in the area evolved.

The results were achieved in a short space of time in a geographical area that is well known for hosting numerous collections of prehistoric art, as published in the 1980s by the emeritus professor of Prehistory at the UA Mauro Hernández, and Pere Ferrer y Enric Català, from the Center d’Estudis Contestans.

Their discovery has been notified to the General Directorate of Culture and Heritage of the Generalitat Valenciana. Its authenticity and relevance were also certified upon accessing the cavity thanks to the collaboration of climbers Alex Mora i Monllor and Natxo Gómez Ors.

In the opinion of archaeologists, it is one of the most relevant Neolithic rock art sites documented in the Valencian Community in recent decades.

They may be: “the beginning of many other discoveries that will occur in the coming years in shelters that they had gone unnoticed because they were located in areas with very difficult access”, the team suggested.

The scientists have opted to create a methodological framework that allowed the use of drones to be incorporated into archaeological prospecting for the location of sites from different historical periods that are difficult to access. They propose to take advantage of the experience of this project for future searches.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com