Search Beneath the Rock Surface: Legend Chasers, Treasure-hunters and Rock Art in NW Spain


This is an abstract from the "The Role of Rock Art in Cultural Understanding: A Symposium in Honor of Polly Schaafsma" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Polly Schaafsma has often emphasized the use of ethnographic analogy to get insights into the use and ideological framework of ancient pictographs. While this is both feasible and reasonable in Southwestern rock art, the numerous petroglyphs known in the Galician region mainly belong to a period spanning the Final Neolithic to the Earlier Bronze Age and, as a result, are completely detached in cultural terms from the present inhabitants. At the same time, the presence of the decorated panels in the landscape has not been altogether overlooked by the later, historic communities. In most cases, however, there is no reference in the local folklore to the carved rocks and those effectively acknowledged by the modern peasants generally belong to the so-called geometric group, made up of circular combinations, while other types of representations (such as zoomorphs) remained comparatively ignored. As to the first, the traditional peasants kept a variable disposition, ranging from Christianization -they carved crosses beside or over the prehistoric images- to the pursuit of the bullion allegedly hidden beneath the actual petroglyphs. In this paper, we explore those different attitudes with respect to prehistoric rock art, spanning from the Iron Age to the present day.

Cite this Record

Search Beneath the Rock Surface: Legend Chasers, Treasure-hunters and Rock Art in NW Spain. Carlos Rodriguez-Rellan, Ramón Fábregas Valcarce. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450467)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22809