The first cave paintings found in Europe were those of Altamira in 1879. Until then, only the remains of some prehistoric objects made of stone and bone had been found.
Nowadays, we can see rock art practically all over the world, but depending on its characteristics and the period in which it was made, we find different types.
In this post we are going to go back to prehistoric times to learn about the Levantine rock art found in the Maestrazgo region, specifically an exceptional set: the Vacada shelter. It gives us clues about the customs, ways of life, beliefs or thoughts of this primitive society.
Levantine rock art is characterized by the fact that it appears in the open air, in shallow rock shelters. Its origin is not known for certain, but many authors agree that it may have developed between 6,000 and 4,000 BC. It is located along the Mediterranean coast of the peninsula, from Lleida to Almeria, but important manifestations have also been found in areas of Aragon (Huesca and Teruel) and Cuenca.
In the Maestrazgo region there are several sites with Levantine paintings. The first to be discovered was the Torico del Pudial shelter in 1948. Years later, in 1960, those of the archer, the open frieze of the Pudial, and the Vacada, all in Barranco Gómez de Ladruñán.
The latter, the Vacada shelter, is one of the most important in Aragon. It has a total of 75 figures, although not all of them are recognizable, painted in light red and violet colors.
The main scene of this set is a herd of bovids with a total of 22 figures. On the right side of the shelter, two archers can be seen accompanying the flock, giving it the hunting character so common in Levantine rock art. It is also accompanied by other figures of archers, a female, and other animals such as deer or goats of a schematic nature, and a quite realistic-looking donkey.
As we can see, both Levantine and schematic paintings coexist in the Vacada shelter, which, unlike the former, are less realistic, although it is easy to identify what they are trying to represent. Access to this shelter is not complicated, but you have to walk for a while. You can go from La Algecira taking the marked trail PR-TE 56 or from the GR 8.1 leaving from Las Planas. The latter can be partially done by car.
In December 1998 , the Rock Art of the Mediterranean Arc of the Iberian Peninsula was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
You can visit the Vacada shelter in 360º here.
Come and discover the traces of the past that were marked in Maestrazgo!