Syllabus query

Academic Year/course: 2017/18

418 - Degree in History

28143 - Symbols, Arts and Beliefs in Prehistory

Syllabus Information

Academic Year:
28143 - Symbols, Arts and Beliefs in Prehistory
Faculty / School:
103 - Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
418 - Degree in History
Second semester
Subject Type:

5.1. Methodological overview

See "Learning activities " and "Syllabus".

More information will be provided on the first day of class.

5.2. Learning tasks

  • Theoretical lectures.
  • Practical lectures.
  • Individual work.
  • Personal study.
  • Assessment activities.

5.3. Syllabus



1. The Discovery of Paleolithic art . From Altamira to Chauvet. Milestones in the research. The extension of Palaeolithic art . The three main areas of France: Dordogne -Lot , the Rhone and the Pyrenees. The Iberian Peninsula: Cantabrian coast . Mediterranean coast. Meseta and Portugal. Paleolithic art in Europe. 

2. Technologies: Systems of lighting and access. The engraving: incision, excision, staking, scraping. The sculpture, the bas-relief and the shaping. The painting: colours and pigments. The recipes. Pads and blowing. (Hand stencils). Combined techniques.

3. Themes: zoomorphic, anthropomorphic figures and signs. Thematic Associations. Themes and topography. The organization of a Palaeolithic sanctuary. The representation of the seasonal variations.

4. The chronology. Stylistic chronology: Abate Breuil’s cycles and Leroi Gourhan’s styles. Latest contributions to the old styles. Conventions of representation and their chronological value: The problem of Chauvet . The portable art: Villaverde and the documentation of Parpalló. Central European portable art. The absolute chronology: AMS datings, thermoluminescence and Uranium Thorium. Pollution problems. What are we dating ? Nerja seals.

5. The interpretation of art: Art for art in leisure time. Hunting magic and magic of possession. Hands with incomplete phalanges. Sexual interpretation: horses and bison, closed and open signs. The social interpretation. Dominant animals and aggregation sites. The dancer bison of Castillo cave. Shamanism.

6. Topography. Sanctuaries of light and deep sanctuaries. Secret art and public art. The figure in your space. Use of natural reliefs, cracks and holes. Adapting to support in the portable art. The scenic composition of the great sanctuaries: Pech Merle, Rouffignac, Niaux and Altamira.




A. Levantine Art.


7. The Discovery. From Calapatá to the last findings in Aragon. Geographical distribution: Five zones of the Levantine art. The Levantine landscape. Accessibility, orientation, association to straits. Valltortas. Territorial markers? The deterioration by natural or human factors.

8. The Techniques. Differences with the Palaeolithic art. The engravings of Barranco Hondo (Teruel). The painting: colours, stripes and spot colours. Analysis of pigments: Valdelcharco. Overlapping colours.

9. The themes of Levantine art. The human as protagonist. Men and their ornaments. Women. The animals and their association. The big bulls. The deers. Goats and wild boars as victims. Other animals. Walkers scenes. Scenes of hunting with bow and boomerang. War scenes: parades, battles, execution, surrending and exclusion. Ceremonial scenes: the capture of living deer, dance scenes, exhibition scenes. Are there Farmers and Shepherds scenes?

10. The chronology. Not a Palaeolithic art. The great debate: Mesolithic hunters or Neolithic farmers? Product of the confrontation between two economic systems? J. Fortea’s three indicators: stylistic parallels with the portable art, stylistic overlays and archaeological deposits at the painted shelters. The Sarga overlappings between Levantine and schematic art. The styles of the human figure: a chronological proposal.


B. The Schematic art and Western art.


11. Types of "schematic art". The "linear-geometric" of Fortea. The "macroschematic" or Petracos style. The schematic and its variants: Seminaturalism and Abstraction. Distribution of schematic art in the Iberian Peninsula.

12. Techniques. Schematic art painting. Colors.

13. The themes of schematic art. Types of human and animal figures. The scenes. The signs. The themes of Western art and its chronological proposal.

14. The chronological discussion of schematic art. The macroschematic art: an art of the Early Neolithic. Overlays. The deposits at the foot of the paintings. The chronology of schematic art. The parallels in the movable art: the painted pebbles of Chaves, ceramic decorations from the Neolithic of the Alicante area. The Chalcolithic parallels of Andalusian ceramics.

15. Western art. Distribution in Europe. Iberian Peninsula. Baltic area. Val Camonica. Engraving techniques. Incision, staking and excision.The themes. Chronology. Megalithic art in Brittany (France) and Ireland.


C. Sahara Art.


16. The climatic issue. Periodization. Themes, styles and conventions.


5.4. Course planning and calendar

See the academic calendar of the University of Zaragoza ( and the website of the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts (Schedule of classes:; Examination schedule:

More information will be provided on the first day of class.

5.5. Bibliography and recommended resources

  • Conkey, Margaret W.. The identification of prehistoric hunter-gatherer aggregation sites: the case of Altamira. Current anthropology : a world journal of the sciences of man, n.21, pp. 609-630.
  • González Sainz, C. . ?El punto de vista de los autores estructuralistas a la búsqueda de un orden en las cuevas decoradas del Paleolítico Superior?. En: El significado del arte paleolítico : memoria del curso desarrollado en la Universidad Internacional Menéndez y Pelayo, agosto 2002 / edición dirigida y coordinada por José Antonio Lasheras Corruchaga, Joaquín González Echegaray . Madrid : Ministerio de Cultura, Secretaría General Técnica, D.L. 2005.
  • Leroi-Gourhan, André. Préhistoire de l'art occidental / André Leroi-Gourhan ; préface de Yves Coppens . Nouv. éd. rev. et augm. / par Brigitte et Gilles Delluc Paris : Citadelles : Mazenod, cop. 1995.
  • Leroi-Gourhan, André. Las religiones de la prehistoria / André Leroi-Gourhan ; traducción de Concepción Aya Gaseni . Barcelona : Laertes, 1994.
  • Lorblanchet, Michel. Les grottes ornées de la préhistoire : nouveaux regards / Michel Lorblanchet . Paris : Editions Errance, cop. 1995
  • Sanchidrián, José Luis. Manual de arte prehistórico / José Luis Sanchidrián . Barcelona : Arial, 2001.
  • Urtilla, Pilar. Sanctuaries rupestres comme marqueurs d?identité territoriale : Sites d?agrégation et animaux ?sacres?Préhistoire, Art et Sociétés. n. LXIII, pp. 109-133.
  • Villaverde Bonilla, Valentín. Arte paleolítico de la Cova del Parpalló : estudio de la colección de plaquetas y cantos grabados y pintados / Valentín Villaverde Bonilla . Valencia : Diputació de València, Servei d'Investigació Prehistòrica, D.L. 1994.
  • Acosta, Pilar. La pintura rupestre esquemática en España / Pilar Acosta . Salamanca : Universidad de Salamanca, 1968.
  • Alonso, A.. ?El arte levantino o el ?trasiego? cronológico de un Arte prehistorico?. Pyrenae : crónica arqueológica, n. 24, pp. 51-70.
  • Beltrán Martínez, Antonio. Arte rupestre levantino / Antonio Beltrán Martínez . Zaragoza : Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Seminario de Prehistoria y Protohistoria, 1968.
  • Corpus de arte rupestre del Parque Cultural del Río Martín / dirección Antonio Beltrán Martínez . Ariño (Teruel) : Asociación Parque Cultural del Rio Martín, 2005.
  • Baldellou, V. (coord). Jornadas Técnicas ?Arte rupestre y Territorio Arqueológico?. Bolskan : Revista de Arqueología del Instituto de Estudios Altoaragoneses . Huesca : Instituto de Estudios Altoaragoneses, n. 16.
  • Breuil, Henri. Rock Paintings of Southern Andalusia : a description of a Neolithic and Copper Age Art Group / by the Abbé Henri Breuil and M.C. Burkitt ; with the collaboration of Sir Montagu Pollock . Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1929.
  • Dams, Lya. Les peintures rupestres du Levant espagnol / Lya Dams ; préface de L.-R. Nougier . Paris : Picard, 1984.
  • Congreso de Arte Rupestre en la España Mediterránea . Actas del Congreso de Arte Rupestre en la España Mediterránea : Alicante, 25-28 de octubre de 2004 / Mauro S. Hernández Pérez y Jorge A. Soler Díaz (eds.). [Alicante] : Instituto Alicantino de Cultura Juan Gil- Albert, D.L. 2005.
  • Fortea, J. Algunas aportaciones a los problemas del arte levantino. Zephyrus, n. XXV, pp. 225-257.
  • Hernandez, M. Martí, B. El arte rupestre de la fachada mediterránea : entre la tradición epipaleolítica y la expansión neolítica. Zephyrus : crónica del Seminario de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Sección Arqueológica del Centro de Estudios Salmantinos, n. LIII-LIV, pp. 241-265.
  • LLavorí de Micheo, R. ?El arte postpaleolítico levantino de la Península Ibérica. Una aproximación sociocultural al problema de susorigenes?. Ars Praehistorica : Anuario Internacional de Arte Prehistórico, n. VII-VII, pp. 145-156.
  • Martinez Valle, R.. Arte rupestre en la Comunidad Valenciana. Valencia : Generalitat Valenciana, 2006.
  • Utrilla Miranda, Pilar. El arte rupestre en Aragón / Pilar Utrilla Miranda . Zaragoza : Caja de Ahorros de la Inmaculada, D.L. 2000.
  • Molina, L. ; García Puchol, O. ; García Robles, M. R. ?Apuntes al marco crono-cultural del arte levantino. Neolítico vs neolitizació. Saguntum, n. 35, pp. 51-67.