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Prehistoric societies in the Spanish Levantine mastered climbing and used equipment



According to a study published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Spanish Levantine rock art provides distinctive visual evidence that indicates how societies in Eastern Spain had developed expertise in climbing and the use of specialised equipment to minimize risks associated with the activity.

A recently uncovered depiction at the Barranco Gómez site in Teruel reveals the most intricate use of ropes discovered thus far in Spanish Levantine art. This study delves into the representations found within this scene, particularly focusing on the use of a rope ladder to access a beehive. By examining these depictions, the research aims to gain deeper understanding of the various uses and technological advancements related to rope-based activities.

Thorough examination of the existing depictions found in Albacete, Castelló, Huesca, Teruel, and Valencia does not provide clear insights into the specific techniques employed for rope production, such as whether twisted or braided fibres were used.

However, the length of the ropes depicted indicate that the societies of Spanish Levantine were technologically proficient in crafting high-quality ropes. Moreover, their refined technique suggests that their expertise in producing long ropes was specifically tailored for climbing activities.

Among the studied depictions, collecting honey emerges as the sole clearly identifiable activity. The production of a rope measuring approximately 25 meters in length would have demanded significant time and effort, encompassing the gathering of raw materials and the actual crafting process. The considerable risk involved in climbing to such heights using rudimentary rope ladders underscores the paramount importance of honey and wax collection to these societal groups.

Bee-related products held significant importance in prehistoric times, serving various economic, technological, and cultural purposes such as sustenance due to their high calorific value and tool production. The depicted scenes portray an array of climbing systems, which researchers have categorised into two groups based on their size, shape, and flexibility: rigid ladders or masts, and flexible systems, likely associated with the usage of different raw materials.

Although Spanish Levantine rock art is dispersed across a wide geographical area, the depictions of climbing systems (ropes and ladders) are concentrated in two distinct regions: the Maestrazgo in the northern regions of Castelló and Teruel, and the Caroig Massif in the southern region of Alicante. This observation leads the research team to infer that these depictions may signify specific behaviors, territorial codes, or possess symbolic significance.

While many of the scenes examined in this study are familiar, the comprehensive investigation of ropes and their associated technology had not been previously undertaken. The materials used for rope production and the techniques employed to create them are largely imperceptible in archaeological records, making it challenging to trace their origins over time.

By analysing descriptions from other researchers and conducting on-site research, the team has gathered valuable evidence regarding the structure, usage, and manufacturing of these ropes. This study also highlights the rock art’s capacity to depict fleeting practices and the utilisation of perishable materials.

Spanish Levantine rock art stands as a remarkable artistic phenomenon unique to the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, emerging after the Paleolithic era. With over a thousand recorded sites, it has been designated as a World Heritage Site since 1998. This art form offers an extraordinary depiction of human life during a pivotal stage of its development. Characterised by its naturalistic style and rich narrative elements, it portrays dynamic scenarios encompassing hunting, warfare, social activities, gatherings, and more, providing an invaluable glimpse into the past.

Asociación RUVID

Header Image Credit : Manuel Bea, Dídac Roman & Inés Domingo

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction




A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.

The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.

Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.

The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.

“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.

The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle




Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.

Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.

Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.

The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”

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