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Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27 (2008) 326337

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Neolithic rock art in context: Landscape history and the transition to agriculture in Mediterranean Spain
Sarah B. McClure a,*, Lluis Molina Balaguer b, Joan Bernabeu Auban b
a b

Department of Anthropology and Museum of Natural and Cultural History, 1218 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA Departament de Prehistria i Arqueologia, Universitat de Valncia, Valencia, Spain

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Rock art is one of the most salient features of Neolithic societies in eastern Spain and an explicit form of landscape history. This paper summarizes current debates of Mediterranean rock art chronology and interpretation and explores the contextual differences in two areas of Neolithic settlement with rock art: the Canyoles Valley (Valencia) and the Alcoi Basin (Alicante). Large-scale survey of the Canyoles Valley resulted in a clearer understanding of agricultural land use during the Neolithic that contrasts with evidence from the Alcoi Basin. By analyzing Neolithic rock art in its archaeological context, we discuss the signicance and limitations of rock art analysis for understanding and characterizing landscape histories and the transition to agriculture in the region. 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 5 May 2007 Revision received 22 April 2008 Available online 16 July 2008 Keywords: Neolithic Iberian peninsula Rock art Chronology Landscape archaeology

Introduction Archaeological landscapes are palimpsests of cultural remains from natural and cultural processes operating at different temporal and spatial scales (Anschuetz et al., 2001; Wandsnider, 1998). Although landscape archaeology is by no means a well-developed theoretical approach, the utility of regional perspectives in archaeology has been recognized and practiced for many years (e.g., Billman and Feinman, 1999; Binford, 1982; Chapman et al., 1996; Fish and Kowalewski, 1990; Wandsnider, 1998). In contrast to traditional settlement systems analyses, landscape approaches consider variation in physical properties and spatial patterns of archaeological assemblages as a part of a greater dynamic whole. A landscape approach complements traditional archaeological uses of space and time, while integrating human history and agency into their constructions (Anschuetz et al., 2001). The transition to agriculture in the Mediterranean region of Spain offers an ideal framework for this kind of approach, including changes in economic land use, the creation of rock art, and social and ideational shifts within societies. In fact, one of the most salient records left by Neolithic societies in this region is the large quantity of rock art in rock shelters and shallow rock faces. Three rock art styles are found in the central Mediterranean region of Spain (Hernndez, 2005): Macroschematic, Schematic and Levantine. This art dates to the Neolithic period (56002200/2000 cal BC), but it is impossible to determine if rock art production oc* Corresponding author. Fax: +1 541 346 0668. E-mail address: (S.B. McClure). 0278-4165/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2008.05.001

curred throughout the period or only in punctual events. In the past few years, attempts have been made to interpret the social meaning of this artistic record, most recently by Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007). Special attention has been given to the relationship between rock shelters with art and their surrounding landscape (Fairn, 2004, 2007; Cruz Berrocal, 2005; Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca, 2007) using GIS technologies and theoretical discourse to explore questions of visibility, access, spatial distribution, and relationships with natural corridors and historic pastoralism routes in addition to the evaluation of rock arts social contexts. In this paper we present results from a regional scale archaeological survey of the Canyoles Valley (Valencia) in comparison with data from the Alcoi Basin (Alicante) in Eastern Spain. We discuss the distribution of Neolithic rock art in the two areas in order to emphasize differing contexts of rock art production, and highlight recent debates on its chronology and interpretation. Finally, the importance for examining rock art in its archaeological context is illustrated and implications for interpreting similar rock art in other parts of Mediterranean Spain are presented. The Neolithic in central Mediterranean Spain The transition to agriculture The appearance of Neolithic lifeways in Iberia is part of a larger phenomenon in the western Mediterranean, where agriculture and associated technologies, particularly pottery, spread from Liguria in northern Italy to southern Spain and Portugal. Based on existing

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radiocarbon dates, this process took less than 500 hundred years (Bernabeu, 2006; Zilho, 2001) and once on the Iberian Peninsula, rapidly spread to the interior (Bernabeu et al., in press-a; Kunst and Rojo, 2000; Kunst, 2001). The absence of wild ancestors for the main domesticatessheep and goat, emmer, einkorn wheatindicate that key features of this mode of production were imported to the Iberian Peninsula. Recent genetic studies (Armelagos and Herper, 2005; Beja-Pereira et al., 2006; Fernndez et al., 2006) support this, although the diversity within domestic animal herds point to genetic inuences beyond a simple, direct transfer of species from the Near East and likely document interbreeding between introduced species with wild counterparts in the Western Mediterranean. However, the nature of the transition to agriculture, the relative roles of indigenous hunter-gatherers, and specic local, regional, and supra-regional processes, are still heavily debated. Several scholars consider the transition to agricultural societies in the Western Mediterranean as a product of colonization by farming groups with subsequent adoptions by indigenous foragers (Bernabeu, 1995, 1996; Binder, 2000; Fortea 1973; Garca Puchol, 2006; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 1987, 1997; Zilho, 1993, 1997). Others apply transition models from other parts of Europe (Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca, 2007; Hernando Gonzalo, 1999; Schuhmacher and Weniger, 1995; Vicent Garca, 1997). These authors argue that the process of neolithization of the Iberian Peninsula is the result of indigenous hunter-gatherers adopting farming technologies and incorporating these into their existing social and economic networks. Recently, Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007) highlighted the argument for a local adoption model of agricultural practices, known as the capillary diffusion model (Hernando Gonzalo, 1999; Rodrguez et al., 1995; Vicent Garca, 1990, 1997), based on the premise of continuity between Mesolithic and Neolithic populations and the inherent ability of indigenous hunter-gatherers to engender, by themselves, a process of economic transformation and increasing social complexity (2007:687). Since hunter-gatherer studies emerged as a research focus with seminal works such as Man the Hunter (Lee and DeVore, 1969; see also Jochim, 1976, 1981), the inherent cognitive, adaptive, and creative abilities of foraging populations has not been questioned, and many instances of indigenous adoption or independent domestication processes are documented throughout the world. The problem of Cruz and Vicents argument lies not in the possibility of this kind of transition, but rather in the archaeological data of Mediterranean Spain. The capillary diffusion model requires the introduction of domesticates as prestige items, the existence of local and longdistance kinship and reciprocity networks, strategies of intensication and diversication of the economic basis during the Mesolithic, cycles of delayed-return consumption, and the unexpected consequences of partial transformations in economic and social practices (Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca, 2007:687; see also Vicent Garca, 1990, 1997). However, as summarized below, the archaeological record of Mediterranean Spain does not support this model as the primary, supra-regional process of neolithization, rather it is limited to specic local and regional contexts. Archaeological data indicate that the earliest agricultural technologies (domesticates, ceramic production, polished stone tools, and a specic lithic technology) appear together and are clearly delineated from preceding local hunter-gatherer cultural and economic traditions. Technologically, Early Neolithic pottery is highly varied, with a number of clay/temper recipes, ring, and decorative techniques used consistently at different Early Neolithic sites (McClure, 2004, 2007; McClure and Molina, in press), suggesting experienced potters practiced this technology from the Early Neolithic onwards. Furthermore, Early Neolithic sites demonstrate a widespread use of a variety of crops, and domesticated faunal remains represent over 65% of faunal assemblages (Mart and Juan-

Cabanilles, 1997; McClure et al., 2006; Prez, 1999). It appears, therefore, that early farmers in eastern Spain were not low-level food producers (sensu Smith, 2001), but rather had a well developed production economy. The coastal distribution of most of the earliest evidence for farming further supports a diffusionist and maritime pioneering model (Zilho, 2001, 2003). After initial settlement, interactions between farmers and the local populations may have taken many formsco-evolution, acculturation, assimilation, substitution depending on local context. The relative role that colonizers and local hunter-gatherers had on the spread of domestic animals and plants to the region is still heavily debated (e.g., Barnett, 1995, 2000; Bernabeu, 1995, 1996; Bernabeu et al., 2001a; Donahue, 1992; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 1987; Mart, 1988; Zilho, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000) and likely varied on local and regional scales. This model of colonization and subsequent interaction has been termed the dual model (Bernabeu, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2006). New radiocarbon and ceramic data from a range of sites on the Iberian peninsula are shedding light on the timing and points of origin of Early Neolithic pottery dispersals (Bernabeu et al., in press-a; Manen et al., 2007). Included in these recent revisions is a renewed interest in the role of North Africa for pottery found in southern Spain and Portugal (Manen et al., 2007), as well as the identication of an Impressa-phase (pre-Cardial) in eastern Spain (Bernabeu et al., in press-a). Specically, the presence of pottery decorated with sillon dimpression shows connections to southern France and Liguria, Italy, while rocker impressions and painted decorations are related to wares found in southern Italy (perhaps via northern Africa). These data are statistically contemporary with the classic Cardial assemblages in sites in eastern Spain, and suggest that the spread of pottery to the Iberian Peninsula was multiphased, multi-directional, and much more complex than previously thought (Bernabeu et al., in press-a). The implications of these new data on models of neolithization are as yet unclear and ongoing studies of pottery assemblages and detailed re-analysis of the earliest levels at Neolithic sites throughout the Iberian Peninsula will likely change our understanding of specic issues relating to the transition to production economies (Bernabeu et al., in press-a). However, these ndings further support the role of migration, possibly multiple migrations, as an important facet for the transition to agriculture in the Western Mediterranean. The Alcoi Basin in northern Alicante is a core area of Early Neolithic settlement (Fig. 1), providing the earliest dates for farming populations in Mediterranean Spain. Available radiocarbon dates of short life samples document a 500 year gap between the last Mesolithic and rst Neolithic dates (Fig. 2). As argued in detail elsewhere (Bernabeu, 1995; Garca Puchol, 2006; Garca Puchol and Aura, 2006; Juan-Cabanilles and Mart, 2002), the absence of Late Mesolithic industries in the region suggests that this area was only marginally used by hunter-gatherers at that time. This may have been part of a larger trend throughout the Western Mediterranean, where gaps of 300+ years between Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic sites are common, despite increases in survey and excavation activity in the past 20 years (Biagi, 2003; Guilaine, 2003; Skeates, 2003; Zilho, 2003). In contrast, adjacent areas such as the Upper Vinalopo Valley and Serra del Caroig mountains may have been cores of Mesolithic hunter-gatherer settlement that continued into the Neolithic (Fig. 1). Once established, farming groups spread quickly across the landscape and currently more than 30 sites date to the second half of the 6th millennium cal BC. Interaction with surrounding foraging communities is documented (e.g., Fortea, 1973; Garca Robles et al., 2005), although the nature of contacts remains elusive. Recent data from the Meseta in central Spain highlight the rapid spread of agriculture (Kunst and Rojo, 2000; Kunst, 2001). Since Epipalaeolithic settlement is not documented in this area either,


S.B. McClure et al. / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27 (2008) 326337

Fig. 1. Map of the study region showing the location of sites from the middle sixth millennium cal BC and those cited in the text. The survey area in the Canyoles Valley is highlighted by the box.

Kunst (2001:59) argues that the rst farming populations arrived in the area via the Ebro and Jaln Rivers from the Mediterranean coast. By the end of the 6th millennium BC archaeological remains evidence the dissolution of traditional forager industries and populations with a production economy are documented throughout the Iberian Peninsula (Juan-Cabanilles and Mart, 2002; Molina et al., 2003). From the onset, Neolithic communities created a particular landscape. In recent years, large-scale surveys in the Alcoi Basin have identied a number of open-air sites (Barton et al., 1999, 2004a,b; Bernabeu et al., in press-b). Excavations at some of these settlements and reconstruction of settlement intensity complement earlier research at caves and rock-shelters (e. g. Barton, 2006; Bernabeu and Orozco, 2005; Bernabeu et al., 2001a; Bernabeu et al., 2003; Bernabeu et al., 2006; Mart et al., 1980; Garca Puchol and Aura, 2006), giving us a detailed view of land use practices by the rst farmers of the region. Widely scattered small villages

were located on fertile valley bottoms close to streams and secondary rivers. Farmers focused their subsistence pursuits on domestic animals and plants, while continuing to exploit wild resources to a lesser degree. Of the domestic animals, sheep and goats were the primary livestock held, and archaeological evidence suggests that farmers used the landscape in an extensive manner, limiting their presence to some upland valleys for summer pasture (McClure et al., 2006; Molina et al., 2006; Prez, 1999). Despite relying primarily on domestic plants and animals for the bulk of their subsistence, Early Neolithic sites also evidence wild plants and animals. It should be of no surprise that farmers hunted and gathered resources, particularly when spending time away from the village, such as while taking sheep and goats to pasture. Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007:688) imply that contexts where evidence for hunting and gathering coincide with agricultural products (ceramics, domestic animals) necessitate interpretations of indigenous transformations, disregarding a large body of research that

S.B. McClure et al. / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27 (2008) 326337

6800 6600 6400 6200 6000 5800 5600 5400 5200 5000 4800 4600






FALGUERA AA59519 FALGUERA AA2295 FALGUERA Beta171910 MAS D'IS Beta162092 MAS D'IS Beta166727 FALGUERA Beta142289 CEENDRES GifA-101360 CENDRES OR Beta142228

OxA10192 Beta107405





Phase A
FALGUERA AA-60625 SANT MART Beta166467

Phase B

Late Mesolithic













4600 cal BC

Fig. 2. Available C14 dates on short-life samples for the study region related to the transition to Neolithic.

discusses the role of hunting in farming societies (e.g., papers in Kent, 1989). Indeed, the transition to agriculture was much more complex than the hypothetical model these authors suggest, and remains a methodological and interpretive challenge, particularly for characterizing and understanding the role of Neolithic rock art. In the following we present archaeological data from the Canyoles Valley to highlight a different context for rock art production. The Canyoles Archaeological Survey Project The Canyoles Archaeological Survey Project was initially designed to examine Early Neolithic settlement and land use patterns in a setting distinctive from the Alcoi Basin. Prior to this project, major research efforts, including large-scale surveys, had been limited to the Alcoi Basin located ca. 25 km southeast of the Canyoles Valley (Barton et al., 1999, 2002, 2004a,b; Barton, 2006; Bernabeu et al., 1999, 2000). By characterizing Neolithic land use in an adjacent region, we hoped to test if cultural patterns described above were representative of the region as a whole. This survey area contrasts with the Alcoi Basin in that it is a large river valley connecting the coastal plain to the interior plateau, while the Alcoi Basin consists of several interconnected valleys surrounded by mountain ranges with only limited access to the coast (Fig. 1). In order to obtain comparative data, our survey strategy was similar to that applied in the Alcoi Basin. We conducted an intensive off-site survey with a multi-stage sampling design (Molina and McClure, 2004; see also e.g., Plog et al., 1978; Read, 1986), using the collection units as the units of measurement instead of dening site borders. Previous work in the Serpis and Polop Alto valleys in the Alcoi Basin suggested temporal and density differences in cultural material based on location, highlighting the need for independent samples of different locations (Barton et al., 1999; Bernabeu et al., 1999).

The Canyoles Valley is located ca. 40 km southwest of the city of Valencia, Spain, on the southern end of the Valencia Province (Fig. 1). It is a natural corridor that connects the interior plateau of the central Meseta with the Mediterranean coastal plain, north of the Baetic Mountains that encircle the eastern and southern margins of the Iberian Peninsula. Historically, this valley has been an important communication route: the Roman Via Augusta traversed the valley (Arasa and Rosell, 1995), as did principal thoroughfares of the Reino Valenciano (Valencian Kingdom) in the 16th century AD. Today, the valley is home to a major highway and a high-speed train line. The Canyoles River originates in the eastern end of the Meseta and drains into the Xquer River, the major river system of the area, ca. 15 km from the Mediterranean Sea, north of the town of Xtiva on the coastal plain. The diversity in elevation, topographic setting and vegetation communities of the Canyoles Valley offered a broad range of wild resources to prehistoric inhabitants. The valley is aligned SW-NE and is bordered to the south by the Sierra Grossa rising to over 900 m and to the north by the Sierra de Enguera rising to over 1000 m. The valley bottom varies in elevation from 150 m in the NE to 550 m in the SW and covers almost 50 sq. km in area. Arable land in the Canyoles Valley is extensive and today sheep and goats are pastured in some upland areas. Much of the valley bottom is currently under cultivation, largely with almond, olive, and fruit trees, along with some vineyards and wheat elds. Evidence for the Early Neolithic has been identied along the valley, primarily by the presence of Impressed Ware and rock art (Juan-Cabanilles and Mart, 2002; Molina et al., 2003; Molina and McClure, 2004; Figs. 3 and 4). Cardial Ware is an excellent temporal marker and found at a number of sites along the valley (Aparicio, 1977; Aparicio et al., 1979, 1982; Bernabeu et al., 2001b).


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Neolithic site Chalcolithic burial cave Rock art location


Albaida N
0 km 5 km

Font de la Figuera

Fig. 3. Canyoles Valley. Location of the previously documented Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and rock art sites. The survey area is highlighted by the box.

Fig. 4. Cova Santa, Canyoles Valley. Early Neolithic ceramics with applied and Cardial impressed decorations.

Unfortunately, few of these sites were excavated systematically and our knowledge of Neolithic developments in this valley was limited to data from mixed deposits or poorly published excavation reports (Garca Borja and Molina, 2001). Despite these problems, Early Neolithic materials were not so abundant as to suggest an intensive occupation of the valley during this period (Fig. 3). Fieldwork concentrated on the Western part of the valley that is less affected by recent human activity. A total of 15 units were surveyed that were randomly chosen in a hierarchical sampling strategy (Molina and McClure, 2004). Survey during two eld seasons covered 8.05 sq km, 15% of the total study area. Artifacts dating from the Middle Palaeolithic to modern periods were collected, conrming human land use of the valley stretching back to the Upper Pleistocene. Detailed survey results were published in Molina and McClure (2004) and Mesolithic and Neolithic results are summarized below. Among the artifacts collected, evidence for the Mesolithic is strikingly absent. Early Holocene stone industries (Epipalaeolithic) are documented in cave deposits and surface assemblages

(Aparicio et al., 1982; Molina and McClure, 2004). Small endscrapers, backed points, and bladelets characterize the Epipalaeolithic assemblages and provide a clear continuity from Late Upper Palaeolithic (Magdalenian) traditions (Aura et al., 2002; Villaverde et al., 1998). In survey, these artifacts were usually found scattered along river terraces and appeared in low densities, suggesting a persistent but low-intensity use of these areas through time. Since use of the valley is clearly documented for the Epipalaeolithic, the lack of Mesolithic artifacts suggests a change in huntergatherer land use strategies. This was surprising given its proximity to known Mesolithic sites to the North and South. One of the main characteristics of late hunter-gatherer land use in the Western Mediterranean is the preference for site locations close to lakes and marshes. In the Canyoles Valley, three areas may have had these features prehistorically: Bosquet, Pla de les Alcusses and Caicn (Fig. 3). In the case of Caicn, alterations associated with the high-speed train infrastructure have dramatically changed this area, so it is not possible to test this further. Historic documents mention the presence of a small lagoon in Pla de les Alcusses that was exploited during Iberian Iron Age (Bonet et al., 2000). It was

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drained in the 19th century AD and currently is visible as dark soils in the eastern part of the upland valley. Finally, due to its particular orography, Bosquet supports one of the oldest water reservoirs of Valencia. Transformations date to the 18th century AD, but it was likely an important water source for the area prehistorically. All three areas were surveyed, although in the case of Caicn, modern impacts proved problematic. Bosquet showed a scarce presence of some lithic materials, but nothing that could be clearly related with human activities before Bronze Age (Molina and McClure, 2004). Known Bronze Age sites in the form of fortied hilltop settlements surround and visually control the area (Garca Borja, 2004). Despite some caves with Early Neolithic and Chalcolithic remains in the Sierra del Serruig, no evidence of these occupations appear in the surface assemblage (Fig. 3). A small lithic assemblage with bladelets was recovered from what was once the edge of the lagoon on the Pla de les Alcusses. Bladelets are often associated with Late Mesolithic or Early Neolithic stone tool assemblages. Most of these materials were collected from an open irrigation trench and were found in a black soil level buried close to a meter below the current surface. Fragments of hand-made pottery were also collected. However, Phoenician pottery from the Early Iberian period was found in the same assemblage. This makes a Neolithic interpretation of the bladelets problematic because contrary to later in the Iron Age, both handmade and wheel thrown pottery were produced during this period. Therefore, the relationship between the lithics and pottery is not

clear. Finally, although the int raw materials used (black and brown) are uncommon in Neolithic assemblages, the absence of any diagnostic pieces prevents us from attributing the assemblage to a specic period (Molina and McClure, 2004). Only in the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic is a stable and more intensive settlement of the area visible archaeologically. Prior to this, few materials including typical combed pottery from the Middle Neolithic appear in the region. By the 4th millennium BC, small farming settlements were established in the Western Canyoles Valley. Diagnostic materials, including ceramics, lithics, and ground stones, were concentrated in three locations (Fig. 5), and many surrounding areas contained lower-intensity assemblages that could not be explained solely by post-depositional dispersion. On the contrary, this kind of dispersal appears to have been related to extensive activities around the settlements, likely agricultural activities, as suggested by the presence of sickle blades and ground stones (for a detailed discussion, see Molina and McClure, 2004). Regionally, farming settlements increase in number during the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic and are often located in previously unexploited agricultural areas (Bernabeu and Pascual, 1998; McClure et al., 2006). This demographic expansion is visible throughout the Iberian Peninsula and likely explains the rst agricultural villages in the Canyoles Valley. Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic occupation of the Canyoles Valley is reinforced by the use of small caves and rock shelters in the surrounding mountains as burial sites (Fig. 3).

2 km

11 &1 5

13 1 10 9 8 7 6 12

3 5 4
>2000 pieces/sq km 1000-2000 pieces/sq km 500-1000 pieces/sq km 500 pieces/sq km

Fig. 5. Prehistoric lithics and ceramic concentrations found on survey. Circles mark areas with Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic materials. Sectors: 1: Carrasca, 2: Simeta, 3: Foia, 4: Caicn, 5: Fontsanta, 6: Alt del Granadero, 7: Biosca, 8: Posino, 9: Cnyoles, 10: Cabezuelas, 11: Albarades, 12: Mas del Fondo, 13: Mas de Sant Joaquim, 14: Serruig, 15: Bosquet.


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Results obtained on the survey have offered us a compelling view of the development of Neolithic landscapes. Human occupation of the Canyoles Valley is known to have extended back at least 100,000 years (Molina and McClure, 2004). Abundant raw material in sectors such as Alto Granadero, Fuensanta and Biosca would have been attractive to prehistoric peoples, and concentrations of these raw materials provided a focal point for lithic production in the valley through time. The lithic artifacts throughout the valley and raw material in these sectors support the notion that they were continually revisited throughout prehistory (Molina and McClure, 2004). Despite its location, ecological diversity, and position as a natural corridor, farming settlements are not documented until the 4th millennium BC. Evidence for Early Neolithic activity, therefore, is limited to cave and rock art sites. People in the 6th millennium were not using this area for farming, nor is there evidence of it as a foraging settlement area. It is a distinctive land use pattern, and very different from that found in the Alcoi Basin. In the following, we discuss the most salient feature of the Early Neolithic in the Canyoles Valley: rock art. By comparing the contexts of rock art in these two areas, we suggest alternative interpretations based on the conuence of rock art distributions, chronology, and archaeological data. Neolithic rock art Listed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1998, rock art of the Mediterranean Basin in Spain includes some of the most fascinating representations of post-Palaeolithic art in Europe. More than 100 sites with rock art are currently documented in the region

located along the boundary of the provinces of Alicante and Valencia. Three different types of representations have been identied, all of them currently considered to date to the Neolithic: Macroschematic, Schematic and Levantine art (Fig. 6). As it is the case for most rock art, temporal placement is difcult. In the case of Mediterranean Spain, the origins, chronology, and cultural meanings continue to be heavily debated, and this debate is tightly linked with concrete views of the neolithization process of each region (Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca, 2007; Garca Puchol et al., 2004). In the following, we briey describe rock art styles found in the region and follow with a summary of the debates surrounding their chronology and interpretation. We then turn to rock art sites in the Canyoles Valley and the Alcoi Basin and discuss the differing settlement contexts in which they were created. Macroschematic art Macroschematic art (Arte Macroesquemtico) is found exclusively in this region and generally displays large, schematic representations of anthromorphs with raised arms (Hernndez, 1995; Mart and Hernndez, 1988). Geometric motifs, such as zigzags often accompany the human-like gures. Most of the Macroschematic art is found in shallow rock shelters without occupational deposits. Chronological assignment is facilitated somewhat by superimpositions of other rock art styles (especially Levantine art, see below) and parallels in mobile art (Hernndez, 1995:97). Similar motifs are found on a wide array of Cardial ceramics, particularly from Cova de lOr and Cova de la Sarsa (Hernndez, 1995; Mart and Hernndez, 1988; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 2002). Indeed, Hernndez (1995) has demonstrated that the distri-

Macroschemaic Schematic

Macroschemaic Levantine

3 cm 5 cm

Fig. 6. Distribution of rock art sites and examples of the different rock art styles: A. Macroschematic (Barranc de lInfern); B: Schematic (Barranc de la Magrana); C: Levantine (Abric del Mas dEn Josep).

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bution of Macroschematic rock art and Cardial Neolithic sites is closely connected. The stylistic similarity between motifs on Cardial pottery and Macroschematic art suggests that it is an Early Neolithic phenomenon and part of the cultural material related to the transition to agriculture (Garca Puchol et al., 2004; Hernndez, 1995; Hernndez et al., 1988; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 2002; Molina et al., 2003). Schematic art Schematic art is characterized by smaller, more simple and basic gures, and is much more widespread in the region. Human representations, animals, geometric gures (lines, zigzags, dots, etc.), suns and symbols constitute the main motifs of this style. Similar designs are commonly found on pottery throughout the Neolithic and Bronze Age sequences, so it is more difcult to dene a chronological parallel based on mobile art. Recent studies have illustrated a relationship between some Schematic motifs with Early Neolithic pottery (Martnez Garca, 2004; Torregrosa and Galiana, 2001). Furthermore, some representations of symbols and anthropomorphic gures interpreted as idols have counterparts in Chalcolithic materials (4th millennium cal BC). This association is strengthened by the location of Schematic art close to caves and rock shelters used as burial areas for multiple inhumations during this period. However, it is unclear if Schematic art was produced throughout the Neolithic to Bronze Age or in several different and independent cycles. Levantine art Levantine art is by far the most closely studied of the Neolithic rock art styles and early publications date back to the end of the 19th and early 20th century AD (Breuil, 1912; Cartailhac and Breuil, 1908; Marconell, 1892). Stylistically, Levantine art is very different from either Macroschematic or Schematic art. It is dened by its naturalistic and narrative character and is distributed throughout the eastern Iberian Peninsula. The size of motifs varies, but gures are usually under 10 cm in size and depict humans and

animals including ovicaprids, deer, horses, pigs, cattle, insects, and some birds, often in scenes. Most of these motifs are found in larger panels with one or more scenes, often depicting an action, such as running, hunting, and warfare (Guilaine and Zammit, 2001; Hernndez et al., 1988). Rock art in the Canyoles Valley Only two areas in the Canyoles Valley exhibit rock art despite a multitude of suitable rock shelters and exposures in the region (Fig. 3). Rock art is found in two southern side arms of the main valley: Bosquet and Pla de les Alcusses. Schematic and Levantine gures have been documented in these shelters, although they are not particularly abundant (Galiana et al., 2005). An exception is shelter 1 of Barranc del Bosquet (Hernndez and C.E.C, 1984) that contains 35 gures distributed in 11 panels, of which one motif is identied as Macroschematic (Figs. 7 and 3). This motif is located in a natural depression in the rock face in the center of the main panel and a variety of Schematic and Levantine gurines (especially anthropomorphic and zoomorphic) are located around it. Neolithic rock art: chronology, authorship, and interpretation The debate on the chronology of rock art and its cultural significance in this area has recently become the focus of several papers, particularly regarding Levantine art. Chronological and cultural attributions have ranged from hunter-gatherers to complex farmers and in dates from the Epipalaeolithic to the Neolithic, Bronze Age and even Iron Age (Aparicio et al., 1988; Fortea, 1974; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 2002; Mart and Hernndez, 1988:35). Historically, Levantine art was thought to be a product of forager creative expression due to the predominance of wild fauna and hunting scenes (Hernndez, 1995:102). However, Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007:681) overstate issues of chronology in their discussion of Levantine art when they argue that this chronological attribution has varied only slightly since then. Numerous studies since the 80s have highlighted a Neolithic (and sometimes later)

Fig. 7. Main panel from Abric II del Barranc del Bosquet; Fig. 3 is Macroschematic.


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age for this style. Similarities in lithic arrow points typical of the Chalcolithic and weapons painted by Levantine artists suggests that this art style was at least partially created during the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic (Fernndez Lpez de Pablo, 2006; Galiana, 1986; Guilaine and Zammit, 2001). The discovery of Macroschematic art and its analysis have also inuenced chronological attribution. Evidence of superposition of Levantine art onto Macroschematic art at Cova de la Sarga and Barranc de Benial has provided a terminus post quem and shifted the chronology for the beginning of Levantine art to some point during or after the Early Neolithic (Hernndez, 2005; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 2002; Molina and McClure, 2004). Furthermore, several authors have argued that a pre-Neolithic date for Levantine art in Castelln (northern Valencia) is not likely given the sparse Late Mesolithic archaeological record in the area (Garca Robles et al., 2005; Villaverde and Martnez Valle 2002). In a broad regional survey, Molina et al. (2003) also suggested that Levantine art must be seen (at least partially) as a relatively late phenomenon, and Fairn (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007) discusses the evidence in Alicante for treating rock art styles as chronological markers spanning the Early Neolithic to Bronze Age. Many of the arguments regarding chronological placement rely on two sets of data: superpositions and parallels in mobile art (ceramics, bone). Although parallels on different media provide a sense of chronology, they are not causally linked. In terms of chronology, Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007:685) argue correctly that superimpositions do not carry information about how much time elapsed between the different phases of painting. This is one of the myriad of issues facing prehistoric rock art analyses. However, superpositions do show some temporal distinctions, particularly for the Macroschematic art that underlays various instances of Levantine and Schematic motifs. Furthermore, the authors would like all styles to date to the Early Neolithic, however they do not deny that some Schematic and Levantine motifs may be more recent (Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca, 2007:684). Based on this observation, the assumption of synchrony of all Neolithic rock art is highly questionable. In sum, current research suggests that Holocene rock art traditions started in the Early Neolithic, but the exact temporal placement of styles is still debatable. Macroschematic art is likely an Early Neolithic phenomenon with a limited chronology. Schematic and Levantine art may well have begun in the Early Neolithic, however they likely span a 3000 year period of production. Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007:677) further argue that the different rock art styles in Mediterranean Spain developed simultaneously during the Early Neolithic and are different expressions of a unique rock art tradition, developed by a single social formation. Similar to Garca Puchol et al. (2004), Garca Robles et al. (2005), and Molina et al. (2003), they maintain that interpretations of rock art chronology and signicance, as well as authorship, are linked with models of the process of neolithization. Based on the capillary model, Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007) interpret Neolithic rock art as the product of foraging populations in transition. Differences in style are functional, not chronological, markers, and served different uses within the same community. Distribution patterns show proximity of rock art sites to traditional historic transhumance routes, and rock art sites in the Gasulla and the Valltorta Systems in Castelln (north of Valencia, see Fig. 1) were guided by structural reasons, based on a particular system of economic exploitation of different and complementary territories (2007:692), connecting interior and coastal areas. Although they connect rock art creation to pastoralism, they argue that this system is the result of pre-existing seasonal exploitation patterns of different territories already developed by Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers. However, following their argumentation, another interpretation is possible. Levantine art may be a result of a shift in cave use that is visible at the end

of the Early Neolithic and throughout the 5th millennium BC, when specialized pastoralists began using caves and rockshelters as corrals for their herds. In contrast, other studies of Neolithic rock art that follow the dual model of neolithization place greater emphasis on chronological differences and multiple authorship. Indeed, some have argued that Levantine art may have initially been a hunter-gatherer response to farmer art (see Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca, 2007 for discussion), but several researchers have also suggested authorship by farmers with varying chronological and functional aspects (e.g., Garca Borja, 2004; Garca Robles et al., 2005; Mart and JuanCabanilles, 2002; Molina et al., 2003). Much of this interpretation relies on the abundant evidence for ritual activity during the Early Neolithic in the Alcoi Basin. Deposits at Cova de lOr and Cova de la Sarsa contained large quantities of pottery, bone tools (including spoons and, at Cova de lOr, some possible musical instruments made of vulture bones: Mart et al., 2001), polished stone axes, bracelets, and other stone ornaments made from non-local raw materials (Orozco, 2000). The faunal assemblage from Cova de lOr includes many young and immature sheep (Prez, 1980). An abundance of symbolic style Cardial decorated ceramics were uncovered, including human gures and other Schematic representations that may have carried additional social and/or religious messages, forming the basis for interpreting these sites as ritual sanctuaries (Bernabeu, 2002; Mart and Hernndez, 1988). The signicance of these sites is further supported by the use of surrounding small caves and shelters as burial locations (Bernabeu et al., 2001b). Within the economic, settlement, and ritual context of the Alcoi Basin, Macroschematic art has been interpreted as the artistic expression of a ritual and ideological belief system of the earliest farmers in the region (Bernabeu, 2002; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 2002). Due to the large size of many of the depictions (in contrast to Schematic and Levantine art), rock faces with major concentrations of Macroschematic art were possibly seen by a large number of spectators at the same time. This has promoted the idea that places such as Cova de la Sarga and Pla de Petracos could have played a special role in ritual life, possibly as public sanctuaries (Mart, 1990; Mart and Juan-Cabanilles, 2002). Recently, Fairn (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007) studied the relationship between Neolithic settlements and rock art sites in Valencia, particularly in Alicante. She argues that rock art structured Neolithic landscapes by dening and reecting the economic and symbolic activities of farmers. Although she treats Neolithic rock art styles as chronological markers, spanning the Early Neoltihic to Bronze Age, she highlights the complexity of questions of authorship when she suggests different rock art styles created by the same groups of people may have coexisted (Fairn, 2007). Discussion: Implications for Canyoles Valley rock art Despite evidence of the Early Neolithic in cave deposits and the presence of rock art in shelters of Bosquet and Pla de les Alcusses areas described above, evidence of recognizable settlement is limited to the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic and more recent prehistory. This differs from land use patterns documented in the Alcoi Basin, where village-based farming is documented throughout the Neolithic. Rock art found in the Alcoi Basin is surrounded by a landscape of agricultural activity and permanent settlement. In contrast, survey results of the Canyoles Valley suggest that people in the Early Neolithic used the landscape more ephemerally and for a different suite of activities. Since the rock art is similar in the two areas, how can this difference in context inuence interpretations of rock art during the Neolithic? The answer to this question depends a great deal on the chronology of the rock art. We agree with Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Gar-

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ca (2007) that Levantine and Schematic art may have begun in the Early Neolithic, but based on the archaeological evidence presented above, Levantine and Schematic styles cannot be regarded solely as an Early Neolithic phenomenon. Barring this chronological determination, any discussion of Neolithic rock art must remain focused on hypotheses for two likely possibilities that may vary between rock art sites: (1) Neolithic rock art is synchronous; (2) Neolithic rock art spans up to 3000 years. Thus, each rock art site with multiple styles must be interpreted in both manners unless compelling chronological evidence (such as imagery of Late Neolithic/ Chalcolithic or Bronze Age weaponry) is present. In the case of the Canyoles Valley, we cannot determine the chronology of Levantine and Schematic motifs. The location of rock art is limited to a specic area of the Canyoles Valley, despite an abundance of available rock faces over other parts of the valley. It is noteworthy that much of the documented rock art is in a narrow entrance to a small upland valley, off the beaten track of the natural corridor of the Canyoles Valley bottom, without clear taphonomic processes to explain the current distribution. Ritual or economic use of at least parts of the valley during the Neolithic may have preceded long-term agricultural exploitation. The ecological diversity of the valley may well have been a draw for hunting game or collecting plant bres and foods not available on the coastal plain or in higher elevations. The lure of lithic raw materials documented in numerous survey sectors may have also brought people to the valley. Available pasture and ease of transportation may have made the valley an interesting destination or corridor for transhumance. The presence of water sources in both areas where rock art is found in the Canyoles Valley is highly suggestive. Particularly the natural water reservoir of Bosquet may have provided the context for increased economic and ritual activity. Unlike some rock art sites in the Alcoi Basin, travellers through the Canyoles Valley would not see the images from the main valley. Rather, the location of the rock art in a side valley, accessing the Bosquet area, suggests that visitors to the Canyoles Valley would need to specically seek out this side valley, and only then would they encounter the imagery prominently displayed on rock faces. This may suggest that the rock art helped delineate a special area, in which gatherings, burials, and rock art production took place, or livestock could be easily cared for. It is possible that people spent enough time in the Canyoles Valley to include these sites as an integral part of their lives, or that this area was visited much more sporadically. If rock art styles in the Canyoles Valley were synchronous, production occurred in a context of ephemeral land use. Cruz Berrocal and Vicent Garca (2007) argue that different styles reect different uses by the same social group, although they do not elaborate or suggest what these uses may have been. Instead, they link rock art distribution with economic networks, and state that rock art should be understood as nodal points in the landscape which have been given a social value (2007:693). Under these conditions, rock art in the Canyoles Valley could be understood in similar terms: marking an area of economic interest and imbuing it with social meaning. Given the presumed functional differences between styles, this would suggest a variety of social meanings. Thus the diversity of rock art may visualize the various uses of this area for economic returns (wild and domestic resources, raw materials) and ritual purposes (e.g., burial). In contrast, if rock art styles were produced with temporal variation, sites may have been persistent places on the landscape (e.g., Barton et al., 1995; Schlanger, 1992). Despite differences in land use observed throughout the Neolithic sequence, people continuously returned to the same rock shelters to create their own style of rock art. The continuity of rock art production may indicate the recognition of ritual space by farming villagers up to 30 generations after initial Macroschematic rock art production. Although

the particular importance of the area may have changed signicantly in the course of many centuries, the presence of water would have been a constant. The production of new kinds of rock art on the same rock faces could indicate a continuity of practice (if not of content) by farmers settling in the valley. These Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic permanent inhabitants may have used their different rock art styles as a conscious attempt to connect their presence on the landscape with earlier generations. Rather than symbolizing a continuity of ritual or economic behavior, the location of Levantine and Schematic art close or in contact with those earlier depictions may have been a conscious attempt by later populations to connect to an ancient tradition, legitimizing or reinforcing their own social and ritual practices. However, this may have also been subconscious: as is frequently seen at rock art sites in Europe, modern depictions are often located on the same panels as ancient ones, indicating a tendency to draw on surfaces already displaying imagery even if the meaning and makers of the earlier imagery are unknown. Conclusions The interpretations of Neolithic rock art in the Canyoles Valley are contingent on chronology and archaeological context. We do not share Cruz and Vicent (2007) optimism that Neolithic rock art in Mediterranean Spain can be used as a primary source of archaeological information regarding the transition to agriculture in this region. Rather, problems of chronology increase the need to interpret rock art distributions cautiously, and rock art must be analyzed in the context of other archaeological data. Otherwise, arguments quickly become circular and, in the end, serve to relegate rock art to illustrations of empirically unfounded and nontestable hypotheses. It is clear that rock art is an important feature of Neolithic society, plays a key role in structuring the landscape, and allows us to glimpse the rich symbolic life of past peoples. However, we are still far from understanding the roles of rock art in Neolithic Spain. We hope to have demonstrated in this paper that a contextual analysis of rock art is worthwhile and can provide interesting hypotheses for the signicance of places on the landscape. This type of analysis furthers existing discussions of the meaning of rock art production and can help rene the study of rock art sites throughout Mediterranean Spain. Acknowledgements We would like to thank C. Michael Barton, Rosa Garcia, Michael Jochim, Douglas Kennett, Jose Perez, and Bernat Mart for their support and insights into GIS and the Canyoles Valley. Jose Perez graciously shared data, maps and aerial photographs with us. Logistic support from the Departament de Prehistoria i dArqueologia of the Universitat de Valncia was greatly appreciated. Special thanks to our crew for tireless days of survey. We remain indebted to the people of Font de la Figuera and Moixent, Valencia for letting us walk their elds. This research was funded by Fulbright Full Grant to Spain 2001-2002 (McClure) and a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant # 8-447628-21569-7-2902. References
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