Spain, Day Four - (Monday)
- Gaucin and Cueva de la Pileta.
Posted by Gabrielle. February 22, 2008.
... Oh, the caves were AMAZING!!!!!
Amazing! Amazing! It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen!
After a long climb up rock steps on the side of a mountain there is
a little round door...turns out the mountain is practically hollow.
We had to wait outside for almost an hour with the guide, who was
hoping that more people would show up, but in the end it was only us.
Inside, there are chambers (galleries) that have paintings, some of
which date back as far as 25,000 B.C., among the oldest cave
paintings that have ever been found...
It rocked - La Cueva de la Pileta.
By LambsOnTheLoose on May 13, 2006.
patience, seriousness, a flashlight & shoes with good traction. You
must be able to walk over rough terrain to climb from the carpark up
to the mouth of the cave, where you wait for the guide. Also, inside
it's rather slippery, with few handholds to prevent falling.
In 2001 we drove out from Ronda to visit
this prehistoric cave that still lets ordinary people, and not
strictly scientists, view pictographs. When enough people had
gathered at the entrance to justify a tour, our group had a brief
introduction by the guide, who then handed out several lanterns.
Walking back into the cave, our guide pointed out some of the
highlights, which he asked the lantern-holders to illuminate. It
would be much better to have your own flashlight, because you can't
always rely on the little, smoky lanterns to do a good job. The
route was never very small, so we didn't feel claustrophobic. As I
recall, we went only about 500 m. inside, but the cave goes much
farther back than the guided tour does. There was an incredible
feeling of being face to face, almost, with the users of this cave
20K years ago. Where these people had had fires in one chamber, the
charred rock at the back of the "fireplace" had been partially
covered up by now-solid layers deposited by limestone drips over the
It's impossible to describe the
intellectual/emotional experience. It was one of the highlights of
my life. The first 2 links below treat the cave as if it were an
amusement for cavers, but that doesn't do it justice. La Cueva de la
Pileta is definitely accessible to able-bodied non-cavers who - I
sincerely hope - plan to take it seriously: this is one of the only
prehistoric caves which "mere mortals" can enter...
The Cueva Pileta near
07 Jul 2007. Posted by Glynis.
cave system is of limestone and there are some incredible geological
phenomena including the calcite formations of stalactites and
stalagmites, some of which were damaged in Antiquity, probably for
ritual purposes; the "Venus of La Pileta" and El Organo. The Organ
consists of huge vertical pleats of hollow rock which can be played
like an organ or a drum. Most memorably The Organ was played by
Ringo Starr during a 1960s Beatles recording session in the
26,000 year old paintings (Podcast).
February 1, 2006. This includes a story about Cueva de la Pileta, a
cave in southern Spain where I experienced 26,000 year old Paleolithic paintings. This
reality changed everything.
13-01-07. Pileta Cave, Spain pics off web (Slideshow)
Little known archeological wonders of the
... And in Spain, we were just at the Cueva
de la Pileta which has prehistoric cave paintings. There isn't as many drawings as in the
more famous caves in France, but there are also far fewer visitors. Basically, the
drawings are protected by simple spaning chicken wire in front of them. Not very developed
in a touristy way, you walk around in a group for an hour and they ask for volunteers to
carry the lanters. Posted 31 July 2005 03:59 by Elis.
Homes of Bullfighting and Prehistoric Cave
Art in Southern Spain.
12-11-06. On a fall trip through southern
Spain we paged through guidebooks in search of prehistoric caves along our route. Our
grail: caves where art created by primitive man had not yet been closed off for
... Driving along the Costa del Sol, which
has in many spots become a cliffside jumble of resort development, we turned inland at
Nerja and drove a short distance to the well-known Nerja caves. These huge caverns attract
lovers of stalactites and stalagmites as well as those interested in prehistoric cave art.
While the guidebooks indicated that the original art might no longer be on view, we
decided to doublecheck. A quick conversation at the ticket office confirmed that only
reproductions could be seen at the museum.
Not good enough for us!! While we
understand the need to preserve the paintings, the thrill of seeing them by flickering
lantern light on the cool cavern walls where artists first placed them cant be
equaled in a museum setting. We were set to spend the next night in the mountain town of
Ronda, known for its claim as the home of the art of bullfighting, its 1740 bridge over a
spectacular gorge and its unspoiled white town. We decided we would detour the next day to
the Piletas Caves, set high on a cliff. These lesser-known, smaller caves have not yet
closed off all their paintingssome said to be as old as any in Spain...
A few years back when I was traveling in
Southern Spain in the region of Andalusia. In that region there are a series of white
washed towns located at the tops of hills. Besides being picturesque, the town locations
aided with defense as this was the last area contested by the Moors at the time of the
Spanish re-conquest of Spain in the late 1400s. These towns are know simply as "Los
Pueblos Blancos" or the white towns. While this region seems very old to most
Americans, what we were looking for was much older.
Near Rhonda, the home of bull fighting, and
located above the village of Benaoján we had read of the existence of a cave which
contained Palaeolithic cave art. Unlike the better known caves in Europe, this cave is
still open to the public and tours are given daily by the family of the farmer on whose
land the cave resides... By Chris Christensen (08/18/06)
He is the first thing I see when I stumble
onto the landing, gasping for air, after an all-too-ardous climb in the Andalusian sun. I
hear German, lots of German, children's voices and the occasional parental warning, but
José is all I see. He is an older man, 56" or 57", lean and tan. He is balanced
against a rock, half sitting, half standing. Arms crossed over his chest, face blank.
Silent. Looking past him I spot the cave entrance, blocked by a wrought iron gate... By a
wandering woman (06/04/05)
March 17, 1991
Strolling in the Sierras Of Ancient Andalusia
By ELISE MACLAY
... At this point we were to visit the
Cueva de la Pileta. I wasn't looking forward to it. I'd been to touristic caves in the
United States and had visions of neon lights, organ music, signs and figurines --
Disneyland with a joke-telling guide. The Cueva de la Pileta is not like that. You have to
climb quite a few stair steps cut into the hillside to reach an unpretentious wooden door.
Perhaps they weed out the uncommitted that way. From the entrance, in a small group, you
will be conducted by the flickering light of a spirit lamp along a slippery path hollowed
out by a subterranean river. The calcite formations are superb and the prehistoric art, so
ancient, so mysterious, is likely to send shivers down your spine.
NOT far from the entrance you will see a horse and a bull in red and yellow ocher outlined
in charcoal on a wall. In the new galleries, reached by ladder, are ocher meanderings that
are presumed to be man's earliest symbol for water. At the far end of the central nave is
an extraordinary panel -- a pregnant mare surrounded by double finger strokes, made at
different times by different hands and believed to be symbols for birth and water.
Beyond the lake is the chamber of the fish. On one wall is the outline of a great black
fish within which was added at a later time the likeness of a seal. The seal faces left
toward a mass of geometric markings that scholars think are about 7,000 years old...
Marshack distinguishes several styles among the severines
of La Pileta Cave:
These include idiosyncratic individual
styles made in various contemporary traditions
. [Some are] meanders and
additions made by one, two, or three fingers using a yellow ochre. These are in the early,
primitive, basic style. Although many of the markings present a double or
triple marking, each is a unit.
The style is clear: there is a basic,
central meander and then branches or additions are attached or are arranged in
proximity. In some panels
the meander is associated with animals: ibex, bull, and
rhono or bear
.A later, more evolved meander usage [also exists] in which
a more formal style begins to give a geometric appearance to the linear, carefully drawn
[a] core meander consisting of doubled lines and the
.[An] essential tradition of attached lateral branches, crossing marks, and
linear extensions of the serpentine form (Marshack 1977:301)...
A STUDY OF THE VALIDITY, ORIGIN AND
FUNCTION OF AUTOMATIC PROCESSES AND ARCHETYPAL SYMBOLISM IN ART PRACTICE by Helen Ferry.
Monash University, 2002.
...The spiral and circle are both dynamic
symbols that are either themselves energy incarnate or are stimulators of the
process of becoming (Gimbutas 1989, p.277). Since the Upper Paleolithic period, the
spiral has represented energy and cyclic time such as in the spiral markings at the La
Pileta cave, near Gibralta, Spain, c13,000-10,000 BC, (Figure 1) (Gimbutas 1989, p.279).
For many thousands of years these markings have continued to be produced by disparate
cultures worldwide with variations often appearing as opposed spirals, horns, crescents,
snakes (Gimbutas 1989, pp. 279-293), tree of life, which is a stylised spherical vortex
and labyrinth (Purce 1974, p.29). The spiral symbol, represented as a stylised abstraction
of the snake, suggests associations of rebirth and regeneration which may allude to the
periodic shedding of the snakes skin as it goes through its life cycle, and also to
the movements of the waxing and waning moon (Gimbutas 1979, p.282). The spiral therefore
may operate as a metaphor for the eternal transformational nature of a universal life
force. This symbol is an archetype that represents the eternal human search for wholeness
within the divine essence to achieve knowledge of true self and transcendence (Purce 1974,
(Figure 1). Serpentine forms and horned
animals, ca.13,000-10,000 BC. Painting, H. figure at left 80cm, La Pileta cave, near
Gimbutas, Marija. 1989, The Language of the Goddess, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London.