The Greater engraving of the Upper Paleolithic of the Iberian Peninsula It has just been discovered in the Vale do Côa rock station (Portugal) and Siega Verde (Spain) and, according to the archaeologists' conclusions, it was made with a previous sketch.
This is the engraving of a 3.5 meter uro and 23,000 years old found by specialists working in the Vale do Côa on a slate panel of more than six meters.
The dimensions of the work, explained Thierry Aubry, archaeological director of the Vale do Côa, confirm that “those who engraved on the stone had to make a sketch first.”
“It is assumed that when they were drawing on the rock the part of the head of the uro they could not see the rest of the body, so they had to have an outline to continue since the artist did not have visibility of everything,” he added.
According to Aubry, it is a uro comparable, due to its dimensions, with those discovered in the French Paleolithic area of the Lascaux caves.
The stone where the animal was engraved was buried near the mouth of the Côa river, in the Portuguese municipality of Fariseu (north), in an area bordering the Spanish Arribes del Duero Natural Park.
The importance of the discovery, Aubry clarified, lies not so much in its size but in the way it has been located: a meter from the ground protruded from the covered stone with the drawing of the uro's rump.
“Being buried, we can check the strata and vestiges of the time, which will give us information about what the men of the Paleolithic were doing,” he said.
Archaeologists are investigating whether the engravings found at the site, declared a World Heritage Site in 1998, were made by men or women but have concluded that they did not live on the banks of the Côa and Águeda rivers, where the remains.
The giant uro is not alone. Inside, and under the technique of “picking”, a deer, a goat and a uro calf appear.
In addition, on the right side of the panel other uros -animal that became extinct in the 17th century- were drawn, deer and horses of smaller dimensions.
Experts believe that the largest figure was made first and then the smallest ones.
It is not a unique composition. Individual engravings and designs with various animal figures have been found on the 1,500 rocks dotted across the 7 kilometers of the Vale do Côa and on the 91 rocky panels of the Spanish area of Siega Verde.
In general, the Paleolithic men painted the herbivorous animals they hunted, although engravings of canids have also been found and in the Côa area a human figure known as “Pisco Man”.
This discovery gives a boost to the experts working in the Côa and Siega Verde, who plan to carry out until 2021 a series of activities to enhance the value of border rock stations, financed with 1.4 million euros through the Operational Program of Territorial cooperation between Spain and Portugal (POCTEP) of the EU.
One of the biggest challenges will be to increase archaeological research, especially in Siega Verde.
The project foresees the development of underwater investigations since it is believed that there could be panels engraved underwater because in the Upper Paleolithic the Águeda river flowed at a much lower level.
Ketty Ratero, coordinator of Siega Verde's activities, explained to EFE that the bulk of the research focuses on the discoveries of the Portuguese Côa, since in the Spanish part they have not carried out archaeological works in recent years.
With this project, which will be executed by the Portuguese Côa Parque Foundation and the Junta de Castilla y León (Spain), they also intend to investigate the area where the Paleolithic men settled and which, presumably, would be the bank of Aguiar, a aquifer that runs parallel to the Águeda and Côa rivers.
“There is a lack of knowledge of this enclave,” said Thierry Aubry, who considered the research essential because it would be the connection point between the Côa and Siega Verde rock sites.