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Engraved schist slab may depict paleolithic campsites

13,000 year-old engraving may map hunter-gatherer campsite



IMAGE: This is a close-up of a motif. view more

Credit: García-Diez et al.

A 13,000 year-old engraving uncovered in Spain may depict a hunter-gatherer campsite, according to a study published December 2, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Marcos García-Diez from University of the Basque Country, Spain, and Manuel Vaquero from Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution - IPHES, Spain.

Manuel Vaquero suggests that this "paleolithic engraving from northeastern Spain brings us the first representation of a human social group."

Landscapes and features of the everyday world are scarcely represented in Paleolithic art. The authors of this study analyzed the morphology, or shape, of an engraved schist slab recently found in the Molí del Salt site in Spain, dated to the end of the Upper Paleolithic, ca. 13,800 years ago. The schist slab has seven engraved semicircular motifs with internal lines arranged in two rows. Because of its shape and proportions, the authors have interpreted these motifs as huts. Microscopic and comparative analysis indicate that the seven motifs were engraved using a similar technique and instrument in a very short time.

The analysis of individual motifs and the composition, as well as the ethnographic and archeological contextualization, lead the authors to suggest that this engraving is a naturalistic depiction of a hunter-gatherer campsite. While scientists can't be sure what the engraving depicts, the authors of this study suggest this engraving may be one of the first representations of the domestic and social space of a human group.


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Citation: García-Diez M, Vaquero M (2015) Looking at the Camp: Paleolithic Depiction of a Hunter-Gatherer Campsite. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0143002. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0143002

Funding: Fieldwork in the Molí del Salt is possible thanks to the financial support of Generalitat de Catalunya, Consell Comarcal de la Conca de Barberà, Ajuntament de Vimbodí i Poblet, and SOREO. The research is carried out within the framework of the project Paleoenvironmental evolution and prehistoric settlements in the Francolí, Gaià and Siurana river basins and Camp de Tarragona streams, funded by Generalitat de Catalunya. This research has also been supported by Generalitat de Catalunya grants 2014SGR-900, 2008ACOM-00073, 2009ACOM-00103, and 2010ACOM-00001. The research of Marcos García-Diez was carried out with the financial support of the Basque Government (Research Group on Prehistory UPV/EHU IT622-13).

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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