Engraved Scapulae from Castillo Cave

Omóplatos decorados  de la Cueva del Castillo Pulse para ampliar Omóplatos decorados de la Cueva del Castillo. Sala 5, vitrina 5.11

The beginnings of portable art

This set of decorated scapulae was found during archaeological excavations on a level identified with the Lower Magdalenian in Castillo Cave (Puente Viesgo), in the northern region of Cantabria. It is considered one of the finest examples of Palaeolithic portable art in Europe and was made by Homo sapiens, human beings just like us.

Each shoulder blade is engraved with one or several overlaid figures. Most of them are naturalistic depictions of does that conform to certain graphic conventions, like the tendency to use rectangular and triangular shapes, the disproportionate size of the animals' heads in relation to their bodies, the standardised poses and the repetition of certain elements, such as the ears or the outline of the head, possibly in an attempt to convey perspective. These traits suggest the existence of a stylistic code governing the depiction of images, and of individuals who specialised in artistic renderings. At present, this code is unknown to us.