Tarragona, Spain – Scientists have found what it seems to be an ancient engraving of a Paleolithic campsite, according to a study from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution, and the University of the Basque Country.
Seven semi-circular motifs with internal lines arranged in two rows were drawn on the stone found in excavations in Moli del Salt in north-eastern Spain. The ancient engraving dates back about 13,800 years to the upper Paleolithic era. The sketches were probably done with another rock or some sort of flint object. The largest of the drawings is about 1.5 inches wide and 0.8 inches high. The entire slab measures 7 inches wide and 3 inches high.
Because of their morphology and proportions, the researchers believe the motifs were designed to represent huts. After analyzing each individual motif, their composition, as well as the archaeological and ethnographic contextualization, the researchers reached to the conclusion that each motif represented a dome-shaped hut where prehistoric families lived, this would mean that the engraving is a depiction of a hunter-gatherer campsite.
“This paleolithic engraving from northeastern Spain brings us the first representation of a human social group. There are other representations of landscapes, but they are natural lanscapes, mountains, rivers. This is the first human landscape”, Manuel Vaquero from Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution said.
The group of researchers believes the artist could have been trying to create a sense of depth because all the hunts are arranged on three levels. Twelve other engraved objects were found at the site, but this was the only one that departs from the artistic conventions of the time. All the other pieces have depictions of animals, or signs linked to magic or religion that are typical of the late-Paleolithic style. They believe someone was experimenting with new themes, focusing for the first time on the social territory, which is why this finding is considered extra special.
Even though researchers cannot assure the images were intended to represent a campsite, they do have ethnographic data to back up their theory. The anthropologists said the only way to be 100% sure the images are indeed a campsite was asking the artist about his or her intention.
If the theory is correct the images represent the earliest depiction of a human camp ever found. Previously, one of the earliest examples of a prehistoric settlement was a village drawing, dating from 1000 BC. It was found in the Lobardy region of Italy was, but in that drawing the houses had already become rectilinear this coincided with sedentary and socially complex societies.
Source: Journal PLOS ONE