Category Archives: SPAIN

Artists Have Been Painting Inside This Spanish Cave for 58,000 Years

Artists Have Been Painting Inside This Spanish Cave for 58,000 Years

In 1821, an earthquake rocked southern Spain and, in the process, exposed the entrance to Cueva de Ardales, a previously hidden cave. Inside, more than 1,000 engravings and red paintings dotted its walls, ceilings, ground rocks and other natural features.

Archaeologists inside Cueva de Ardales

Archaeologists have long suspected that the cave’s artwork was very old, but now, they believe they have a much clearer picture of exactly when—and who—created it.

Neanderthals and, later, more modern humans left their artistic mark on the cave starting around 58,000 years ago, according to a new paper published this week in the journal PLOS One.

An international team of archaeologists explored Cueva de Ardales from 2011 to 2018, then used radiocarbon and uranium-thorium dating techniques to understand the cave’s history.

They believe Neanderthals first entered the cave during the Middle Paleolithic, or the middle part of the Stone Age, drawing on the walls and maintaining their tools inside.

After that, human visits to Cueva de Ardales ebbed and flowed all the way through to the late Neolithic/Chalcolithic period—the latter part of the Stone Age and the Copper Age—about 5,500 years ago,

Based on items archaeologists found within the cave, they also suspect it was used solely to create art and bury the dead—not as a shelter. This suggests that the site was highly symbolic to its visitors.

“What is very exciting is that, as far as we can tell so far, Ardales was not a classic camp site,” Gerd-Christian Weniger, an archaeologist at the University of Cologne and one of the paper’s authors, tells Gizmodo’s Isaac Schultz. “That was not clear before the excavations.”

Though they didn’t find any fireplaces or other evidence to suggest domestic occupation of the cavern, researchers did document a deer tooth, a wildcat bone, pieces of ocher, some tools and the jaw of a 12-year-old boy, among other artifacts.

They also found a rope fragment and charcoal dating back to the late 16th or early 17th century, which suggests that someone rappelled into the cave a few hundred years before the 1821 earthquake bared its entrance.

Artists made makeshift lamps out of capped stalagmites.

Natural light could not reach the cave’s innermost depths, so its prehistoric artists had to improvise to see what they were drawing. Researchers found charcoal residue in the caps of stalagmites near some artworks, suggesting the painters created makeshift lamps to illuminate their work area.

After the 19th-century earthquake, curious tourists wandered around inside Cueva de Ardales, located in Málaga, Spain, about 30 miles from the Mediterranean coast.

But it took nearly 100 years for researchers to realize the value of its archaeological riches. In 1918, French archaeologist Henri Breuil recognized that the artwork inside the cave was very old, likely dating to the Paleolithic period.

Despite this, archaeologists paid little attention to Cueva de Ardales until around 1990, when researchers took a full inventory of all the rock art in the cave.

Though this latest study shines more light on the mysterious cavern, there’s still an entire section that researchers have yet to investigate, per Gizmodo. Hopefully, there’s more art—and more insights into prehistoric humans, their ancestors and their creativity—to come.

5,400-year-old tomb discovered in Spain perfectly captures thesummer solstice

5,400-year-old tomb discovered in Spain perfectly captures the summer solstice

Archaeologists have discovered a 5,400-year-old stone tomb beside a prominent lone mountain in southern Spain, indicating it was a local focus for the prehistoric people of the region.

Archaeologists found the 5,400 year-old stone tomb in the “neck” area of a prominent mountain that looks from some angles like the head of a sleeping giant.

Archaeologists have discovered a 5,400-year-old megalithic tomb near a prominent lone mountain in southern Spain, suggesting the peak may have been meaningful to prehistoric people there.

The area, in the countryside near the city of Antequera, is renowned for its megaliths — prehistoric monuments made from large stones — and the newly found tomb seems to solve one of the mysteries of their alignment.

The tomb was designed to funnel light from the rising midsummer sun into a chamber deep within — much like the contemporary megalithic tomb built more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away at Newgrange in Ireland, suggesting both places shared similar beliefs about the afterlife more than 5,000 years ago.

The tomb was constructed about 3400 B.C. with a passage aligned to sunrise on the summer solstice that cast light onto decorative rocks on the walls of a chamber within.

“Newgrange is much bigger and more complex than the tomb we have discovered [in Spain], but they have something in common — the interest of the builders to use sunlight at a specific time of the year, to produce a symbolic — possibly magic — effect,” Leonardo García Sanjuán, an archaeologist at the University of Seville. 

The bedrock at the site is tilted away from the position of the sunrise on the solstice at midsummer, so the builders deliberately constructed a cavity to admit its light, according to a study by García Sanjuán and his colleagues published April 14 in the journal Antiquity.

Related: 2,600-year-old stone busts of ‘lost’ ancient Tartessos people discovered in sealed pit in Spain

“They worked very cleverly to make an arrangement of stones, which were engraved and possibly painted,” he said. “These were sacred things placed so that the sunrise on the [summer] solstice would go straight into the back of the chamber.”

The archaeologists found human remains in the tomb from several different burials, held there in three major phases for over 1,000 years.

Megalithic tomb

The new study describes excavations by García Sanjuán and his team beside a prominent limestone mountain known as La Peña de los Enamorados — the Rock of the Lovers — named after a  legend that says two star-crossed lovers once killed themselves by jumping off it.

The mountain is also famous because it looks like the profile of the head of a sleeping giant, especially at times of low light such as sunrise and sunset.

García Sanjuán and his colleagues excavated the tomb in late 2020 in the “neck” region of the mountain, near the Matacabras rock shelter, which is adorned with pictographs thought to be painted about 5,800 years ago. They think the tomb was first built a few hundred years after the rock paintings were made, and that it was used for burials for more than 1,000 years.

he archaeologists also found stone tools and pieces of pottery in the tomb. They are particularly interested in any residues on the pottery, which could show what they held as grave goods.

The archaeologists have found several deposits of human remains in the newfound tomb, dating from three major phases of its use, as well as pieces of pottery.

Ancient landscape

The tomb was found beside the prominent mountain known as La Peña de los Enamorados — the Rock of the Lovers — because legends say two star-crossed lovers once killed themselves by jumping off it.

The Antequera area is famed for its natural rock formations like La Peña and the megalithic monuments in the region, which may have been influenced by the local geography. The most famous is the Dolmen of Menga — one of the largest and oldest megalithic structures in Europe, which was built between 3800 B.C. and 3600 B.C. 

But the passage in Menga is not aligned to a solstice sunrise or sunset, as might be expected — instead, Menga points toward La Peña de los Enamorados, about 4 miles (6.5 km) to the northeast. (The other two megaliths in the region were built later and seem to point elsewhere.)

The alignment suggests La Peña was an important focus for local prehistoric people and solves a mystery of where Menga was pointing: to the location of both the rock art and the newly found tomb at  La Peña, while the tomb at La Peña itself pointed to the solstice sunrise, García Sanjuán said.  

The inner chamber of the newfound tomb is decorated with a distinctive stone with ripple marks on its surface, which was taken from a region that had once been a beach or part of the seabed.

A passage in the tomb is aligned to the rising sun on the day of the summer solstice. Similar alignments have been seen at megalithic tombs elsewhere in Europe.

The stone was placed so that the light from the rising midsummer sun fell upon it; and the part of the burial chamber in front of it seems to have been kept clear of human remains, García Sanjuán said.

“These people chose this stone precisely because it created these waving, undulating shapes,” he said. “This was very theatrical… they were very clever in producing these special visual effects.”

He noted that megalithic structures have been found from Morocco to Sweden, and that the people who built them seem to have had similar beliefs. 

“There are differences as well, but one common element is the sun,” García  Sanjuán said. “The sun was at the center of the worldview of these people.”

More than 4,500 Skeletons Discovered in Islamic Necropolis in Spain

More than 4,500 Skeletons Discovered in Islamic Necropolis in Spain

CNN reports that more than 4,500 graves have been identified at a cemetery in northeastern Spain, in an area thought to have been largely untouched by the Arab invasion of the Iberian peninsula in the early 8th century A.D. 

In an 8th-century burial ground in the town of Tauste, near Zaragoza in Aragon, the tombs were uncovered, Eva Gimenez, an archaeologist currently excavating the region with the archaeology firm Paleoymás, told CNN.

Muslim occupation of Tauste had been considered “incidental and even non-existent” by traditional and written sources, researchers from the University of the Basque Country have said — but the region’s cultural association had long suspected the area had been home to a large Islamic settlement because of architectural clues and human remains found in the town, Miriam Pina Pardos, director of the Anthropological Observatory of the Islamic Necropolis of Tauste with the El Patiaz cultural association, told CNN.

An ancient Islamic necropolis containing over 4,500 bodies has been uncovered in northeastern Spain, with archaeologists excavating more than 400 tombs in the five-acre site

From 711 to 1492, the boundaries between the Christian north and the Islamic south shifted constantly with the changing sovereign authority, according to researchers from the University of the Basque Country.

DNA studies and carbon dating place remains in the necropolis between the 8th and 11th centuries, according to El Patiaz.

Archaeologists unearth ‘huge number’ of sealed Egyptian sarcophagi Some 44 skeletons were uncovered during smaller excavations in the years following the initial dig, Pina Pardos said, and this year, more than 400 bodies have been found after local authorities ordered an extensive excavation of the area.

Earlier excavations revealed several skeletons at the site.

“It’s rare to do an excavation and to find 400 tombs. It’s amazing,” she said.

All of the skeletons had been buried according to Islamic customs, positioned to the right and facing southeast toward Mecca, Pina Pardos added.

“We can see that the Muslim culture and Islamic presence in this area is more important than we thought,” Gimenez said.

“We can see there was a big Muslim population here in Tauste from the beginning of the presence of Muslims in Spain,” she added.

“It is very important — the 400 Muslim tombs show the people lived here for centuries,” she said.

The remains will be cataloged, stored for research and studied, Pina Pardos said.

Bronze Age Burial Site of Powerful Woman Discovered Under the Ancient Palace in Spain

Bronze Age Burial Site of Powerful Woman Discovered Under the Ancient Palace in Spain

Archaeologists in Spain have determined that the 3,700-year-old remains of a woman found beneath a Bronze Age-era ruin may well be the first case of an ancient female ruling elite in Western Europe.

The discovery at the La Almoloya site in Murcia, Spain, dates to around 1,700 B.C., according to newly published research in the British journal Antiquity.

The woman’s potential status as a ruler also means that the ruin her body was buried beneath is likely the first palace found in Western Europe dating from the Bronze Age, which lasted from about 3,200 -1,200 B.C.

The Almoloya site was first discovered in 1944 and is believed to be the cradle of the El Argar society, which flourished between 2,200 and 1,550 B.C. in the southeast part of what is now Spain.

They were one of the first societies in the region to use bronze, build cities, and erect monuments. El Argar is also considered to be an early example of a class-based state, with divisions in wealth and labour.

The woman’s remains, discovered in 2014, were buried with a man and several valuable objects, most notably a rare silver crown-like diadem on her head.

Further analysis of the remains and artifacts over the last few years led researchers to their conclusions about the significance of the find.

“These grave goods have allowed us to grasp the economic and political power of this individual and the dominant class to which they belonged,” researchers said in a press release.

The remains of the woman and man were found in a large jar located beneath the floor of a room. Researchers believe the woman was 25-30 years old and the man was 35-40 when they died around the same time in the mid-17th century B.C.

Genetic analysis indicates they had children together, including a daughter buried elsewhere on the site.

But it was the valuable objects, and the diadem, in particular, that suggested the political importance of the woman.

Also significant was the location of the remains beneath a room in a large building complex that seems to have had both residential and political functions, including a room with benches that could hold up to 50 people that researchers nicknamed the ‘parliament’.

This combination of residential and political use means the building meets the definition of a palace and would make it the first discovery that dates from the Bronze Age in Western Europe.

“The La Almoloya discoveries have revealed unexpected political dimensions of the highly stratified El Argar society,” the researchers said.

The building was destroyed by fire not long after the woman was interred, they said.



When you see a beautiful crystal how do you feel? Perhaps the perfection of the diamond, or the vivid colors of the different gems are your thing? The fact is that people have been fascinated by crystals ever since they had first discovered them.

The gems ‘ names come from ancient cultures that were obsessed with them pretty much, adding them to their jewelry, kitchenware, and weapons.

Do you know that even the Bible describes the new Jerusalem after the apocalypse built all in gems and crystals?

An archeological excavation in Spain reveals that even in the 3rd millennium BC, crystals were an object of fascination and ritual

Archeologists discovered a number of shrouds decorated with amber beads at the Valencina de la Concepción site, and they also found a “remarkable set of “crystal weapons

The Monterilio tholos, excavated between 2007 and 2010, is “a great megalithic construction…which extends over 43.75 m in total.” It has been constructed out of large slabs of slate and served as a burial site.

The period in which this site was built was well known for the excavation of metals from the ground, and where there is excavation – there can also be crystals.

In the case with the Monterilio tholos, the people there found a way to shape the quartz crystals into weapons.

However, the spot where these crystals were uncovered is not associated with rock crystal deposits, so it means that these crystals were imported from somewhere else.

The rock crystal source used in creating these weapons has not been pinpointed, but two potential sources have been suggested, “both located several kilometers away from Valencina.”

As the academic paper which focuses on these crystal weapons states, the manufacture of the crystal dagger “must have been based on the accumulation of transmitted empirical knowledge and skill taken from the production of flint dagger blades as well from the know-how of rock-crystal smaller foliaceous bifacial objects, such as Ontiveros and Monterilio arrowheads.”

The exact number of ‘crystal weapons’ found in the site has been estimated to “10 crystal arrowheads, 4 blades and the rock crystal core of the Monterilio tholos.”

Interestingly enough, although the bones of 20 individuals were found in the main chamber, none of the crystal weapons can be ascribed to them.

The individuals had been buried with flint daggers, ivory, beads, and other items, but the crystal weapons were kept in separate chambers.

These crystal weapons could have had ritualistic significance and were most probably kept for the elite. Their use was perhaps closely connected to the spiritual significance they possessed. Indeed, many civilizations have found crystals as having a highly spiritual and symbolical significance.

The paper states that “they probably represent funerary paraphernalia only accessible to the elite of this time period.

The association of the dagger blade to a handle made of ivory, also a non-local raw material that must have been of great value, strongly suggests the high-ranking status of the people making use of such objects.”