March 13, 2017 - 2 comments

What does it take to understand?

The entrance to Arco B cave in Northern Spain.

Imagine this. You are squeezing through tight passages where your body barely fits. You are surrounded by darkness and navigating by torchlight. If your light dies you are stranded.

Seeing some of the ancient art sites is not easy work. Just look at what a leading Spanish anthropologist is willing to go through in order to document paleolithic art in the Northern Spain. Being underground is hard. It is dark, it is often cold and wet. It is an inhospitable realm.

So why are scientists willing to go to these lengths? Ancient artworks are the one direct message that we have from the past. They are a straight line to what our ancestors were thinking, to what they were feeling. A direct line to who they were. There is a piece of artwork at the back of this squeeze. We won't ever know why the artist chose to engrave a tiny goat back in that passage. But we do know that whoever made the engraving had to go to tremendous lengths to get there.

An engraved goat in a small chamber in one of the Arco caves.

Whoever made this image had to squeeze through the same passage. A burning torch would have been their only light. It had to be hard.

Then, at the farthest point, they could go in the cave, at almost the tightest place they chose to take the time to carve a goat into the wall. It is at a place that no one would ever see it. If that is not a glimpse into the mindset of a paleolithic artist I don't know what is!


Published by: Stephen Alvarez in 20000, Spain


C Schwalbe
March 14, 2017 at 9:52 am

These are not in the Pyrenees. They are in the Cantabria mountain range the Pyrenees span the border between Spain and France. This is well west of that. please correct this.

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