Category Archives: SPAIN

Fingerprints Studied at Rock Art Site in Spain

Fingerprints Studied at Rock Art Site in Spain

Two fingerprints discovered in rock art at the Los Macho Rock Shelter in Spain indicate a man who was at least 36 years old and a girl between the ages of ten and 16, according to a report in The Art Newspaper.

Not only are fingerprints effective in the identification and unlocking of your phone, but they also can help to learn about ancient artists too.

Researchers recently analyzed 2 fingerprints discovered between the painted rock art in Los Macho’s rock shelter, in southern Spain, according to a new study published in the journal Antiquity.

The work done by a team of researchers from the University of Granada, the University of Durham, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, shines a rare light on the artists who produced Spain’s rock art and the society in which they lived.,

Created between 4,500 and 2,000 BC and painted by finger, the prehistoric “schematic art” involves strokes, circles, geometric motifs, and human figures, and “probably relate to daily life, and are the materialization of symbolic elements understood by the communities that inhabited the area around Los Machos” at the time, the team writes in Antiquity.

“The true value of rock art lies in how it represents the direct expression of the thought processes of the people who created it. These individuals are very often missing from discussions of rock art sites.”

“The analysis of fingerprints in terms of sex and age is a great contribution towards understanding who was involved in the production of rock art,” says Leonardo García Sanjuán, a professor in prehistory at the University of Seville.

“For example, a gender analysis of rock art would be possible if sufficient amounts of evidence on fingerprints like that presented in this paper were compiled: was rock art made by children, adults, women and men alike? Or were there specific age and sex groups in charge of its production? Up until now, we knew next to nothing about these issues.”

A prehistoric fingerprint, or palaeodermatoglyph, spotted on the rock art

Scholars are able to determine a person’s sex and age using fingerprints on archaeological remains because the characteristics of the prints differ.

Men tend to have broader fingerprint ridges than women, for example, while the distance between ridges grows from childhood to adulthood, helping to deduce age.

Prehistoric archaeologist Margarita Diaz-Andreu, an ICREA Research Professor based at the University of Barcelona, says that the study is an “exciting proposal,” but urges some caution.

“We know that in several societies in the world, the people who were in charge of painting were often accompanied by other members of the community. This means that the fingerprints may not have come from the authors of the paintings.”

Although prehistoric rock art has been extensively studied, few facts have been gleaned about the artists who created these works.

It was once assumed that the much earlier rock art of the Upper Palaeolithic era (at least 20,000 years ago) was mainly produced by men because the artists often painted animals that would have been hunted.

Today though, analyses of the hand stencils left by these Palaeolithic artists have shown that men, women, and children all played a role in producing the works. In fact, one study of rock art in various French and Spanish caves showed that 75% of the hand stencils were female.

In a similar way, fingerprint analysis can help researchers to challenge assumptions about prehistoric artists.

“The research into authorship, using the methodology applied here, could reveal further complex social dimensions at other rock art sites worldwide,” writes the research team.

Researchers stunned by ‘perfect’ £300million shipwreck treasure

Researchers stunned by ‘perfect’ £300million shipwreck treasure

The fortune of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, which sunk in a fight near Portugal’s Cape St Marie in 1804, was raised in an American court after a US salvage company took 594,000 gold and silver coins worth £308 million from the site in 2007.

The curator of Spain’s National Museum of Underwater Archeology, Mr. Ivan Negueruela, said:  “The finds are of inestimable scientific and historic value.”

It is believed that the ship was shot down before Spain joined the Napoleonic Wars against Britain. When the Amiens Peace of 1802 broke down, Britain declared war on France in an uneasy peace with Spain.

In 2007 some of the cargo was retrieved by the Odyssey Marine Exploration company, which had it flown to Tampa, Florida. A court in 2012, however, forced the treasure hunters to return the haul to Spain.

The items found had been listed in the ship’s manifest, including cutlery inscribed with a passenger’s name. An archaeological report said: “Mention should be made of the perfection with which the documentary sources coincide with archaeological evidence in this case.”

Elisa de Cabo, the Spanish Culture Ministry’s deputy director of national heritage said in 2012 the find was “invaluable”.

She added: “How would you put a price on the Mona Lisa?”

The treasure was worth £300million
The vessel was downed in battle

A similar find could be made this year as researchers from both Spain and Mexico hope to unearth a historic Spanish galleon that fell to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in October 1631.

The ship is called the Nuestra Senora del Juncal (Our Lady of Juncal) and sank to the depths while carrying gold, silver, and jewels that could be worth billions today. The vessel and its sailors were hit by vicious storms as they made their way to Spain, and even before the challenging weather, the crew was stripped of its commander due to illness.

With the ship slowly becoming flooded with water, and repair desperately needed, the Nuestra Senora del Juncal plugged away through two weeks of relentless storms.

Coins rescued from the Frigate Mercedes

Dr. Iván Negueruela, the director of Spain’s National Museum of Underwater Archaeology, has claimed the chances of locating and finding the ship are looking good.

He said: “Because the cargo was so valuable – it was carrying lots of ingots – the authorities had a detailed inventory.

“The survivors were also questioned in-depth and their statements help us to reconstruct what happened with quite a high degree of accuracy, so we have a fairly good idea of where the ship sank.”

Archaeologists in Spain Seek Grave of 16th-Century Irish Hero

Archaeologists in Spain Seek Grave of 16th-Century Irish Hero

VALLADOLID, SPAIN—The Archaeology org reports that a team of researchers led by archaeologist Óscar Burón have uncovered human remains at what may be the burial place of Red Hugh O’Donnell.

Statue of Red Hugh O’Donnell

An Irish nobleman who led a rebellion against the government in Ireland and died in Spain in 1602, after attempting to persuade Spanish king Philip III to send additional troops to Ireland to continue the fight against the English.

A tweet from the city’s tourism and culture department read: “A part of the skull, a femur, and some more remains appear in what appears to be the access to the Chapel of the Marvels.”

On day five of the dig in Valladolid’s Constitution Street on Friday, the archaeologists recovered human remains.

The city’s culture councillor Ana Redondo posted a shamrock emoji and the words “estamos cerca” – “we are close”.

The archaeologists involved are also searching for the remains of Christopher Columbus, who in 1492 became the first European to discover the Americas.

He was buried in the same place as O’Donnell. However, Columbus’s remains were allegedly removed and reburied in the cathedral of Seville and later in the Dominican Republic.

In search of Red Hugh O’Donnell, the Irish William Wallace who ended his days in Valladolid.

Speaking on Friday, which was the 514th anniversary of the funeral of Columbus in Valladolid, chief archaeologist Óscar Burón said he believed that both O’Donnell and Columbus are “buried right under our feet and now we are concerned with checking whether the research we have undertaken is correct”.

He described O’Donnell as an “Irish prince and the hero of the resistance against the English”.

O’Donnell and his father-in-law Hugh Mor O’Neill, who between them controlled large parts of the north of Ireland, started the Nine Years War to drive the English out of Ireland.

Battle of Kinsale

It began promisingly and the Irish won a number of significant victories, but eventually ended in defeat following the siege and then the Battle of Kinsale in late 1601 and early 1602.

A combined force of Spanish and Irish troops was defeated by the English in one of the worst military setbacks in Irish history, after which Red Hugh fled to Spain.

Though Philip III never did provide the soldiers requested by Red Hugh, he did give him the equivalent of a royal funeral as described in the Annals of the Four Masters.

“His body was conveyed to the king’s palace at Valladolid in a four-wheeled hearse, surrounded by countless numbers of the king’s state officers, council, and guards, with luminous torches and bright flambeaux of beautiful wax-light burning on each side of him.”

He was buried within the Chapel of Marvels in the grounds of the Franciscan convent in Valladolid. The convent disappeared in 1836 and with it O’Donnell’s remains.

In a statement, Valladolid city council’s cultural department said finding the remains of O’ Donnell would be a “spur to the dissemination of this city abroad and also, of course, within Spain.

“The burial in Valladolid of these two characters of such relevance to the world as is the case of Columbus and to relations between Spain and Ireland against their common enemy: England, demonstrate the importance of Spain and specifically of Valladolid for centuries.”

On Thursday the team of archaeologists located other human bones, but not those of O’Donnell.

They hope that his remains will be easy to identify as he lost the big toes on both feet from frostbite after he escaped from prison in Dublin in December 1591. He fled into the Wicklow mountains in the depth of winter. His companion Art O’Neill froze to death in the escape.

New Virtual Reality Experience Transports Viewer Inside Spanish Paleolithic Caves Seen By Only 50 People In 16,000 Years

New Virtual Reality Experience Transports Viewer Inside Spanish Paleolithic Caves Seen By Only 50 People In 16,000 Years

In the caves of La Garma mountain in Northern Spain, there were only 50 other people, a novel archeological site with one of the most important international collections of rock art and archeological stays in the Paleolithic age.

Screen shot from virtual reality revel in within La Garma caves in Northern Spain

La Garma is a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art in northern Spain. La Garma houses five levels of caves and is considered the most important Paleolithic archaeological discovery since the mid-twentieth century. 

The cave’s lower gallery, which was discovered in 1995 features the world’s biggest example of paleolithic flooring. The flooring and ancient stays inside the cave have been neatly preserved through a landslide 16,000 years ago that sealed off the cave to the elements.

Two decades after the rediscovery and preliminary learning about the lower gallery at La Garma, scientists saw the need for additional study of the cave’s underground system—its microclimate and microbiology—and assessment of the state of conservation of the rock art.

Still of La Garma cave flooring in Memoria VR revel in

With the support of American shoe dressmaker Stuart Weitzman, who has been producing footwear in Spain for the reason that the 1970s, the World Monuments Fund has been working on a project to conserve and promote La Garma with Morena Films and Overlat studio.

A multidisciplinary team of experts have been studying the cave’s ecosystem and archaeological remains. Two short documentaries and a virtual reality experience have been produced to allow people to enjoy and learn about this extraordinary site.

Now anyone can “travel” to Northern Spain on a virtual consult with those hardly ever visited Spanish caves Memoria: Stories of La Garma, through award-winning VR director Rafael Pavón, is a new virtual reality revel in simply introduced through Viveport, the arena’s first limitless VR subscription service.

This VR experience is really the only way to learn about these fascinating caves due to the danger of the site.

Only 50 people have physically been able to enter them in the past 16,000 years and the caves are off-limits to the public but by mapping them for VR, they can now be viewed virtually by anyone.

Still from Memoria of cave drawings of animals in La Garma caves

Memoria premiered in 2019 on the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria in Santander and it used to be this museum’s staff who worked with Rafael Pavon on the VR experience.

Narrated by Geraldine Chaplin (The Crown, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), this VR film is an incredible story from the Paleolithic era about a community who on returning from hunting discovered that the La Garma caves they called home had been blocked off by a landslide, creating a time capsule.

Thousands of relics, from cave-wall paintings of animals and signs to animal bones, seashells, and artifacts carved in bone, remained undisturbed and intact for 16,000 years.

So what is the VR experience like, what equipment is required and how much does it cost? The Memoria: Stories of La Garma VR experience is impressive and is compatible with most VR headsets.

The user can “walk” around three spaces of the cave, captured with millimetric precision using laser scanners and photogrammetry.

The viewer will see paleolithic hunters, a mother, and her child and a cave lion who made his way deep into the cave to live his final days.

You can watch videos about the caves but the nature of VR means people can physically explore the caves, virtually pick things up, and become immersed, as if they were in the caves.

A UK viewer of the content makes an onetime purchase for £4.56 from Viveport and then can view the experience repeatedly.

Alternatively, Viveport has an unlimited VR subscription service called Infinity that can be purchased as a monthly (£12.99) or annual subscription (works out as £8.99/month), allowing unlimited access to their entire range of content.

Fabled palace’s lost gateway unearthed

Islamic-Era Palace Gate Uncovered in Spain

The abandoned gate of the fabled Islamic palace-town Medina Azahara in the 10th century, which was destroyed by fire during a 1010 civil war, has been discovered in southern Spain.

Abd Rahman III, the first caliph of Córdoba, began in 936-1940 AD to build a palace – whose name means ‘ the shining city. ‘ This palace was built as a power symbol.

For some seventy years Medina Azahara thrived before being sacked and burned by Berber rebels in an uprising that eventually saw the caliphate’s dissolution. In the following centuries, the city’s ruins were plundered for the construction of other structures as far away as Marrakech

Abd-al-Rahman III was the first caliph of Córdoba, in Andalusia, and once a member of the Umayyad dynasty.

The site was first excavated in the 1910s, with efforts to date have only uncovered around 10 per cent of the massive complex — which is threatened by construction.

Researchers hope that the discovery of the gate will add to their understanding of the workings of the palace — in particular, the parade ground that it opened on to.

The palace, pictured — whose name means ‘the shining city’ — was built as a symbol of power by Abd-al-Rahman III, the first Caliph of Córdoba, beginning around 936–940 AD
The lost gate of the fabled 10th-century Islamic palace-city Medina Azahara that was destroyed by fire during a civil war in 1010 has been unearthed in southern Spain. Pictured, the remains of the mosque at Medina Azahara. One of the oldest of the city’s buildings, it was built on the lowest of the complex’s three terraced levels, outside of the walled precinct

Medina Azahara lies around four miles west of Córdoba in the foothills of the Sierra Morena, where it would have dominated the views from the surrounding plains.

‘The east gate stood on a porch that collapsed with the fire that destroyed the city,” said archaeologist Alberto Canto of The Autonomous University of Madrid, who led the excavation.

‘Everything collapsed and so we found buried the remains of its tiles, wood, nails, beams, hinges and ornaments,’ he added. Alongside the gate’s debris, the archaeological team also discovered charcoal believed to have come from the fire that destroyed the gateway.

The lost gate is believed to be the entrance to the palace’s spacious parade ground — which was the size of two football pitches — where the caliph’s guard assembled.

Believed to have once stood at around two storeys high, the lost gate was built in a style similar to the doors of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, in Andalusia. It is thought that the entryway would have been embedded in a plastered portico decorated with blue plant motifs.

The site was first rediscovered in the 1910s, with excavations to date having only uncovered around 10 per cent of the massive complex. Pictured, the so-called door of the prime minister within the city-palace

The Medina Azahara complex spanned around 250 acres of land and is believed to have taken some 10,000 workers to build across its history.

Alongside the parade ground, the city featured administrative and governmental offices, barracks, baths, three gardens, a mint, mosques, reception halls, residences, schools, stables and workshops. The heart of Medina Azahara was the reception hall, referred to as the ‘Salón Rico’, or ‘Rich Hall.

Historians believe that at the centre of the hall lay a pool filled with mercury that, when disturbed on cue by a servant, shone the sun’s reflected rays flashing across the walls and ceiling in a display like lightning — one that was used by the caliph to entertain his guests.

Water was supplied to the city by tapping into the remains of a 1st-century Roman aqueduct — part of which was also repurposed as a sewer system. 

Medina Azahara was modelled after the old Umayyad palace in Damascus, a move intended to serve as a symbol of the connection between the caliph and his ancestors.

Medina Azahara lies around four miles west of Córdoba in the foothills of the Sierra Morena, southern Spain, where it would have dominated the views from the surrounding plains

Between the palace-city’s first construction and Abd-al-Rahman III’s death in 961, the ruler is said to have to spend a third of his caliphate’s annual revenue on developing the magnificent complex.

The caliphate of Córdoba covered much of the Iberian peninsula — and a breakaway from territories of the Umayyad dynasty, one of the world’s largest empires that spanned some 4.3 million square miles at its height and was centred on Damascus.

Medina Azahara has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2018, with the United Nations describing the caliphate city as an exemplar ‘of the now vanished Western Islamic civilisation of al-Andalus at the height of its splendour.’

Drought Reveals “Spanish Stonehenge” Older Than the Pyramids

Drought Reveals “Spanish Stonehenge” Older Than the Pyramids

After 50 years of immersion on the bottom of a basin, in Spain, a 5,000-year-old monument emerged.

There are 144 granite blocks on the megalithic site, which are over 6 feet high, known as ‘ Spanish Stonehenge. ‘ Its similarity to the UNESCO World Heritage site in Wiltshire is striking, but the Iberian version is made of smaller rocks.

The Spanish General ordered the construction of a hydroelectric dam at Peraleda de la Mata, near Cáceres in Extremadura, which was supposed to be condemned to the history books of the 1960s.

The Dolmen de Guadalperal, also known as the “Spanish Stonehenge,” has been completely exposed for the first time in 50 years following the drought.
Some of the megaliths reach two meters in height.

However, a severe and prolonged drought has seen the structure emerge as the last drops of water vanished from the barren basin. Western Spain is being ravaged by a year-long drought and the Bronze Age structure, thought to be an ancient temple, can now be seen.  

Hugo Obermaier, a German priest and amateur archaeologist, first found the site in 1925.

Due to the unfortunate decision-making of General Franco who opted to consign the site to obscurity when he commissioned a valley bordering the Tagus river to be flooded.

But before its rediscovery and subsequent demise, it is thought the stones would have centered around a central chamber for sun worship.

It is believed the Celts living in Iberia 4,000 years ago may have built the structure.    

‘The stones have been brought from about five kilometers away to form this temple, which we think was used to worship the sun,’ Ángel Castaño, president of the Peraleda Cultural Association, told the Times. 

‘In that way, it has similarities to Stonehenge but is obviously smaller.

‘People here had heard about them but had never seen them. We want the authorities to move these stones to the banks of the reservoir and to use them as a tourist attraction, as few people come to this area.’

Stonehenge’s enormous rocks are up to 30 feet in length, dwarfing the six-foot-tall single monoliths uncovered in Spain. There are more stones at the Spanish site, 1144 compared to 93 in Wiltshire. 

However, Stonehenge’s monument covers 10,800 square feet (10,000 square meters), a far bigger area than the Spanish site. 

Radiocarbon dating of the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ found the stones range in age from around 4,000 to 5,000 years old and this ties them curiously to the history of Stonehenge. The first monolith structure in Europe was found in Brittany dating back as far as 4,794 BC and other early monuments (red) were found in northwest France, the Channel Islands, Catalonia, southwestern France, Corsica, and Sardinia from a similar time period.
The site was thought to be condemned to the history books in the 1960s when a Spanish general ordered the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Peraleda de la Mata, near Cáceres in Extremadura

Long-term plans for the preservation of the site are yet to be laid out, but Mr. Castaño met officials from the regional government yesterday to discuss the matter. If action is not taken now, he said, it could be many years before they are seen again.

A prolonged submersion could also be catastrophic for the stones, which are made of granite, a porous material prone to erosion, The monoliths are already showing significant signs of wear, he said, and if they are not saved now, it may be too late.  

Radiocarbon dating of the rocks found they range in age from around 4,000 to 5,000 years old and this ties them curiously to the history of Stonehenge.  Neolithic people, often prone to building monolithic structures, emerged throughout time across Europe. 

It is widely accepted Stonehenge’s bluestones were quarried from Priesli Hills in Wales and moved to the current location, but how the idea for Stonehenge arrived on British shores remains a mystery.  

Various pieces of recent research have looked at what likely led to this, and a scientific paper published in February put forward the idea that the knowledge and expertise to create such monuments was spread around Europe by sailors.

The authors from the University of Gothenburg said the practice of erecting enormous stone structures began in France 6,500 years ago and then made its way around Europe as people migrated.  

Further research into the Spanish Stonehenge could allow for a more detailed picture to emerge of the practice’s popularity in different areas at different times. Currently, inhabitants of Anatolia, what is now Turkey, are thought to have moved to Iberia and settled before eventually heading north and entering the British Isles.  

Lost tomb with 72 ancient skeletons from extinct Canary Islands civilization found by drone after 1,000 years

Lost tomb with 72 ancient skeletons from extinct Canary Islands civilization found by drone after 1,000 years

Amateur archeologists on the holiday island of Gran Canaria discovered a grave containing ancient remains of men of a lost pre-Hispanic civilization.

The mummified remains of 72 skeletons belonging to natives of the ‘Guanche’ society were discovered by drone. The amazing find included 62 adult skeletons and 10 newborns.

They were found in the Guayadeque ravine on the island of Gran Canaria, which is part of the Spanish Canary Islands.

Experts have confirmed the discovery and have linked it to the Guanche civilization as the cave dates back to between 800-1000AD.

Guanche people are thought to be the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands and may have traveled there from North Africa.

Historians think that the Guanches people were ethnically and culturally absorbed by Spanish settlers when they colonized the islands.

Archaeologist Veronica Alberto told local media: “There are many burial caves in Gran Canaria, but not many like this one.

“The discovery of the newborn remains is important as they were not included in previous findings until very recently.

“We know now they can be found in these types of cave burials.”

The cave with the archaeological remains.

Archaeologists went down to the burial site and found traditional burial shrouds made from vegetable fibers and animal skin.

Alberto added: “We can confirm that all the pre-Hispanic people in the Canary Islands were prepared the same way for the burial ceremony.”

Experts had to travel down 75 feet to reach the tomb. Members of the amateur archaeology group ‘El Legado’, formed by Ayose Himar Gonzalez, Jonay Garcia, and Jesus Diaz, found the cave via drone.

Gonzalez said: “We were flying a drone and we took some pictures of the cave. It is in a very difficult place to access and you need to climb a cliff to reach the site. People thought the photos were fake because of all the bones there!”

They found the cave back in June last year but only reported it recently because they were concerned it would be vandalized.

Gonzalez explained: “The cave should be closed off and preserved with the bones left there to respect the site. We decided to report it because we want the local authorities to preserve and respect it.”

Family discover ‘perfectly preserved’ Roman tomb hidden beneath a home in southern Spain

Family discover ‘perfectly preserved’ Roman tomb hidden beneath a home in southern Spain

In Carmona, a city near Seville, Andalusia, a family made a remarkable discovery during building work on their houses.

They were stunned when they knocked a wall down the patio of their townhouse to find a small arched opening that led to an underground to a funerary chamber dating from the first century AD.

They found eight niches in the room, six of whom were occupied by funerary urns or chests containing what is thought to be human remains dating back more than 2,000 years.

An archaeological team dispatched by the town council to examine the site described it as “perfectly preserved” and said it was the most important discovery made in the area for decades.

Juan Manuel Román, an archaeologist employed by the council, emphasized “the outstanding importance of the discovery”.

“It’s been 35 years since a tomb was found in such a magnificent state of conservation,” he said, adding that it didn’t appear to have suffered any deterioration over the centuries since it was sealed.

“There is barely two fingers worth of sedimentation,” he added.

An initial study suggests the funerary urns are made of different limestones and glass and are sealed in protective lead casings. 

Vessels associated with funerary rights, including unguentaria (small bottles used to contain perfume or oil) and glass dishes where offerings would have been made, were also undamaged within the tomb.

The walls of the chamber are decorated with a geometric grid and there are inscriptions on three of the niches, perhaps indicating the name of those interred within. 

José Avilés, 39, the owner of the house, who is known by neighbours as Pepe, told local media that he was astounded by the discovery. “We never imagined when we were building an extension to the house that we should find such a thing,” he said.

“It’s all happened very quickly but our intention is to keep the chamber open, preserve it and protect it and somehow incorporate into the house,” he said.

“But we’ll have to see what the archaeological teams say,” he added. 

Work immediately started by the council’s archaeology department who said the artifacts found in the tomb would be closely studied and then go on display in the town’s archaeological museum.

Carmona, known as Carmo in Roman times, was one of the most important cities in Roman Spain and today is home to one of the most interesting Roman-era archaeological sites; the Roman Necropolis, a collection of over 300 tombs