GARATE, Diego et al. | Unravelling the skills and motivations of Magdalenian artists in the depths of Atxurra Cave (Northern Spain)

Publisher: Scientific Reports     
Language: English                                                                                           
Abstract: Atxurra cave has a decorated assemblage composed of more than a hundred engraved animal depictions. All of them are located in deep parts of the cave and most of them are hidden in raised areas, away from the main path. The main sector is the “Ledge of the Horses”, located at 330 m from the entrance of the cave. It is a space of 12 m long and 1.5 m wide, elevated 4 m above the cave floor. This area includes almost fifty engraved and painted animals accompanied by a dozen flint tools, three fireplaces, and around one hundred charcoal fragments from torches. This extraordinary archaeological record allows us to value the complexity of the artistic production inside the caves during the Upper Palaeolithic. Our study has confirmed that there is planning prior to artistic production, both in terms of the iconographic aspects (themes, techniques, formats), its location (visibility, capacity), and the lighting systems. Furthermore, the data indicates the panel was decorated to be seen by third parties from different positions and was expressly illuminated for this purpose. This evidence supports the role of rock art as a visual communication system in Upper Palaeolithic societies.