Yes in Paleolithic art it is rare to find representations of scenes rather than individual figures, it is still less so than the protagonists of these scenes are birds instead of mammals, such as goats, deer, or horses.
In fact, in Europe, prehistorians had so far only located three scenes of Paleolithic art shared by birds and humans. Now, the magazine L’Anthropologie describes how researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) have found in the site of L’Hort de la Boquera (Tarragona) an artistic creation dating back 12,500 years in which the two species interact.
“This is one of the few scenes found so far that begin to point to the birth of a narrative art in Europe, and also the theme is unique, since it combines a possible hunt with a maternity image: a bird with its young ”, explains Inés Domingo, researcher at the UB and the first author of the article.
The found piece is a limestone about 30 centimeters long in which you can distinguish two human figures and two birds, which researchers have identified as cranes. According to the study, the figures seem to star in a story about hunting and about motherhood.
"In the scene depicted birds capture the attention of two human figures, that imitate or persecute them. Although we do not know the significance of the scene for the prehistoric inhabitants, what the piece does tell us is that the birds were not only valued as hunting prey, but also had a symbolic value for European Palaeolithic societies ”, Domingo points out.
The figures were carved into the stone block with a flint burin, forming a well-ordered composition, in contrast to other works of the same period. Since it was found in 2011, the piece has undergone different cleaning, restoration and 3D copying processes necessary to be able to study it in depth.
For scientists, It is a very relevant find given the few samples of Palaeolithic art in Catalonia, which places this territory within the currents of artistic production of the Upper Paleolithic in the Mediterranean.
"There is no doubt that we are facing an exceptional landmark of European Palaeolithic rock art due to its rarity, its excellent conservation and the possibilities of studying it within a general context of excavation that we know very well ”, point out in the work the authors, all of them members of the Seminar for Prehistoric Studies and Research (SERP) of the UB.
The Paleolithic art of the Montsant valley
The other cave paintings with humans and birds that until now had been located in Europe are those of the Lascaux site, a perforated cane discovered in the Mège coat (Teyjat, Dordogne, France) and the platelet of the great hunter of the Gönnersdorf field (Germany).
"The discovery of the recorded scene is exceptional and confirms the importance of the site and the area in terms of Palaeolithic art in the northeast of the peninsula," underlines the director of the excavation, Pilar García-Argüelles.
"Very close we have the only Palaeolithic cave engraving in Catalonia, the deer in La Taverna cave (Margalef de Montsant), and just over 40 kilometers away is the Molí del Salt shelter (Vimbodí), with an interesting set of stone blocks with engraved animals and a representation of cabins ”, he concludes.