The technology of the earliest European cave paintings: El Castillo Cave, Spain

Publication date: June 2016
Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 70
Author(s): Francesco d’Errico, Laure Dayet Bouillot, Marcos García-Diez, Africa Pitarch Martí, Daniel Garrido Pimentel, João Zilhão
The red disks from El Castillo Cave are among the earliest known cave paintings. Here, we combine the morphometric and technological study of red disks from two areas located at the end of the cave with the microscopic, elemental, and mineralogical analysis of the pigment and compare the results obtained with observations derived from experimental replication. Ergonomic constraints imply that a number of disks were made by adults, and the differences in pigment texture and composition suggest that they correspond to an accumulation through time of panels made by different persons who shared neither the same technical know-how nor, very possibly, the same symbolic system.

Graphical abstract