gipuzkoakultura.net

Logo de la Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa
Logotipo gipuzkoakultura

gipuzkoakultura.net

viernes 4 diciembre 2020





Bertan > Bertan 15 Los orígenes del arte en Gipuzkoa > Versión en inglés: Art mobilier

Printable PDF version [11,8 Mb]Acrobat icon

Art mobilier

30. Gannet bone discovered in Torre (Oiartzun): a magnificent example of art mobilier from the Basque Magdalenian.© Jesús Altuna
30. Gannet bone discovered in Torre (Oiartzun): a magnificent example of art mobilier from the Basque Magdalenian.© Jesús Altuna

Decorated bones, horn and plaquettes

Two pieces are of particular importance: the bird bone of Torre and the Ekain sandstone plaquette, which are amongst the masterpieces of European palaeolithic art mobilier.

The Torre Bone

31. Carving of a deer on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna
31. Carving of a deer on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna

Among the decorated bones discovered in digs in Gipuzkoa, one of the most important was unearthed in the small cave at Torre, in Oiartzun. Torre is a small uninhabitable cave, which was used as a hide by hunters in several pre-historical periods. The bone is a small cubitus from a gannet – a Nordic sea bird which can still be found on these coasts, although it was once much more common. The diaphysis and part of the proximal epiphysis of the bone remain, but the distal is missing. The remaining piece measures 18 centimetres in length.            

32. Carving of a horse on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna
32. Carving of a horse on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna

This bone forms a perfect miniature and contains the following carved figures: a deer, a horse, a chamois, two ibexes, a urus [or aurochs] and an anthropoid. There is hardly any overlap between the different figures. They are all depicted in profile, except for the two ibexes, whose heads are shown face-on, as is common in palaeolithic art.

33. Drawing on the Torre bone (as depicted by I. Barandiaran).© Jesús Altuna
33. Drawing on the Torre bone (as depicted by I. Barandiaran).© Jesús Altuna

There is also a series of symbols including straight lines, zigzags and dots, covering the bone from one end to the other.

The animal figures are highly realistic. If we look, for example, at the head of the deer, we see that its mouth is open, as if it were braying and the tear gland is clearly visible, a feature of deer when they bray. To represent the antlers, the artist has drawn the base of the main beam and the two brow tines. The horse has a short erect mane, typical of wild horses. The head of the chamois is modelled to show differences in colouring which can be seen on the real animal. In particular, note the dark mark running between the eye and the muzzle.

34. Drawing of a present-day chamois. Compare the stripe running from the eye to the muzzle with the figure.© Ińaki Zorrakin
34. Drawing of a present-day chamois. Compare the stripe running from the eye to the muzzle with the figure.© Ińaki Zorrakin

The only non-realistic figure is an anthropoid, another common feature in palaeolithic art. This one, however, is depicted with hair, a beard and an eye with upper and lower eyelashes.

By comparing it with other pieces found in the stratigraphy, we can state with certainty that the bone dates from the Upper-Final Magdalenian, some 12,000 years ago.

The Ekain plaquette

In the Upper Magdalenian level of the site at the entrance to the Ekain cave, seven fragments of a flat piece of engraved sandstone, or plaquette, have been found, which it will be possible to reassemble. The plaquette depicts the superimposed hind parts of an ibex, a deer and a horse.

The ibex, carved in fairly deep lines, is the most visible figure on the stone. From the undulating horn we can deduce that it is a Pyrenean ibex. The head has been drawn in great detail with the eye, ears, prominent brow and two horns. The ornament rings (or growth rings) on the horns have been represented using a series of transverse lines. The lower part of the throat, the chest and the front legs have been carefully drawn with many short cuts partly modelling these areas.

35. Carving of an anthropoid on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna
35. Carving of an anthropoid on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna
36. Carving of part of a chamois head on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna
36. Carving of part of a chamois head on the Torre bone.© Jesús Altuna
37. Sandstone plaquette from Ekain (Deba) depicting an ibex, a deer and other figures.© Xabi Otero
37. Sandstone plaquette from Ekain (Deba) depicting an ibex, a deer and other figures.© Xabi Otero

Except for its antlers, the deer has been drawn with a finer technique than that used for the ibex. The head has been carved with the eye and the line of the mouth. The antlers contain the brow tines, the central tine of each antler and the crown (or brow tines) which is widened. The crown tends to be the most variable part of a deer’s antlers: there are frequent examples of flat crowns with terminal points extending from them.

The third figure, which is more difficult to make out, probably represents a horse.

Radiocarbon dating of the stratum immediately beneath puts the C14 age at 12,050 (± 190) years ago.

The Carved Urtiaga Plaquette

39. Carved pebble from Urtiaga. Includes a fine carving of the front of a horse.© Xabi Otero
39. Carved pebble from Urtiaga. Includes a fine carving of the front of a horse.© Xabi Otero

A sandstone plaquette in two pieces was found in the Latter Magdalenian level of Urtiaga. It contains the following figures:

On one of the faces there is a beautiful ibex’s head (a female or kid), which is very well carved, with a wide cut. The horn, ears, eye, nose and mouth have all been depicted.

On the other side of the stone there is a figure of a reindeer executed with a fine cut. There are clear details that make it possible to identify the animal: the back with the withers clearly indicated, the low position of the head, the shape of the horn, the long hair on the throat and the blunt muzzle.

Carved pebble from Urtiaga

38. Carved stone plaquette from Urtiaga (Deba) with the head of female ibex or kid on one side and a reindeer on the other.© Xabi Otero
38. Carved stone plaquette from Urtiaga (Deba) with the head of female ibex or kid on one side and a reindeer on the other.© Xabi Otero

This is a limestone pebble with exceptionally fine carving. One side shows the forequarters of a horse, including the head and neck. The erect mane and some details of the muzzle have been depicted. The eye, however, is not shown.

Horn rod from Aitzbitarte IV

40. Perforated shells, used as pendants or necklaces.© Xabi Otero
40. Perforated shells, used as pendants or necklaces.© Xabi Otero
41. Horn rod from Aitzbitarte IV (Rentería), decorated with various incisions.© Xabi Otero
41. Horn rod from Aitzbitarte IV (Rentería), decorated with various incisions.© Xabi Otero
43. Ibex incisors, perforated for use in a pendant or necklace.© Xabi Otero
43. Ibex incisors, perforated for use in a pendant or necklace.© Xabi Otero
42. Recreation of a necklace with atrophic deer canines and a horse incisor.© Xabi Otero
42. Recreation of a necklace with atrophic deer canines and a horse incisor.© Xabi Otero
44. Perforated deer canines.© Xabi Otero
44. Perforated deer canines.© Xabi Otero

This is a flat-convex rod, broken at both ends, with decorations on the convex face. The decoration consists of three groups aligned along the length of the horn, each of which has three parallel and somewhat undulating grooves. Each of these grooves contains a series of small closely-joined incisions.

45. Perforated fox canine.© Xabi Otero
45. Perforated fox canine.© Xabi Otero
46. Perforated shells, used as pendants or necklaces.© Xabi Otero
46. Perforated shells, used as pendants or necklaces.© Xabi Otero

This rod was discovered in the Solutrean level of the cave, and therefore dates from a previous era to all the other examples mentioned here.

Burins, harpoons and javelins

47. Burin from Ermittia (Deba), triangular in cross-section and decorated on all three faces with geometrical carvings.© Xabi Otero
47. Burin from Ermittia (Deba), triangular in cross-section and decorated on all three faces with geometrical carvings.© Xabi Otero
48. Harpoon from Ermittia.© Xabi Otero
48. Harpoon from Ermittia.© Xabi Otero
52. Harpoon from Ermittia.© Xabi Otero
52. Harpoon from Ermittia.© Xabi Otero
50. Decorated spear from Urtiaga.© Xabi Otero
50. Decorated spear from Urtiaga.© Xabi Otero
49. Harpoons from Aitzbitarte IV, Urtiaga and Ermittia. These were both functional and decorative.© Xabi Otero
49. Harpoons from Aitzbitarte IV, Urtiaga and Ermittia. These were both functional and decorative.© Xabi Otero

These tools, used for hunting and fishing, were often decorated, although the decoration added nothing to their effectiveness. The following are just a few examples:

The Ermittia Burin. This is a burin - or boring tool - with a triangular cross-section, which has a similar carving on each of its three faces. On two of the faces there is a series of rhombuses each containing a dot, linked with straight lines. On the third face, instead of the rhombuses there are two short oblique cuts.

There are also numerous harpoons and javelins with different decorations, as well as pendants made from the teeth of deer or ibexes or from shells, which were perforated so that they could be threaded.

53. Harpoon from Urtiaga.© Xabi Otero
53. Harpoon from Urtiaga.© Xabi Otero
54. Harpoon from Urtiaga.© Xabi Otero
54. Harpoon from Urtiaga.© Xabi Otero
55. Harpoon from Aitzbitarte IV.© Xabi Otero
55. Harpoon from Aitzbitarte IV.© Xabi Otero
Licencia Creative Commons. Pulse aquí para leerla
2020 Departamento de Cultura y Euskera- Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa.
Para conectar con nosotros mediante skype pulse aquí
Logotipo Gipuzkoa.net. Pulsar para ir a la página de Gipuzkoa.net