Cañada de la Cruz rock shelter

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The Cañada de la Cruz shelter is located in a place very close to the source of the Segura River, forming part of a chain of caves that open in the westernmost foothills of the Calar de Mariasnal, at an altitude of 1,510 meters above sea level. The most significant figure in the ensemble is a female figure, perfectly preserved, with a rounded head, a very stylised trunk, arms downwards with the hands indicated by strokes. The flared skirt from which the legs protrude and on which the feet with drawn toes can be seen is striking. The series of Levantine Art is completed by the presence of several other figures, including the remains of several deer and an archer. There are also some schematic figures, several anthropomorphs, two tree-shaped figures and some vertical bars.

Levantine Art in Santiago-Pontones

From the west of the province of Jaén and the north of the province of Almería to the interior of the provinces of Huesca and Lleida, numerous shelters of Levantine art have been documented, organised in four large river basins: the Segura in the south, the Júcar and Turia in the centre and the Ebro in the north. The basins of the Segura, Júcar and Turia rivers were occupied in their entirety, from their source to the mountainous areas near the coast, while the Ebro basin was never crowned. Therefore, the shelters of Santiago-Pontones, together with those existing in the neighbouring region of Los Vélez (Almería), have become the southern frontier of Levantine Art.


Levantine Art is essentially pictorial, although in recent years some engravings have been found. The dyes used have generated three types of chromaticism, red, black and white, with red dominating the painted repertoire. Black, present in several cores, is relatively rare, while white is exclusive to the Albarracín core. Red: iron oxides -oligite and limonite-.Black: charcoal and manganese oxide. White: barium sulphate.

Feathers and Levantine Art

Recent experiments and analyses suggest the use of bird feathers as brushes to create Levantine figures. The feather is an instrument that makes it possible to obtain the formal qualities and varieties that can be observed in Levantine shelters, because it is flexible and allows a ductile line.

Relevance of cave paintings

The selection of the shelters as a symbolic support is not a casual choice, but depends on the symbolic and cultural strategies of the prehistoric societies established in the territory, functioning as elements of territorial control. The Levantine painted shelters are places that overlook small geographies and accumulate in ecological niches, with similar physical and environmental characteristics. Surrounded by enclosed landscapes, broken only by the meandering course of rivers and ravines, they offer a clear picture of the relationship that Levantine Art had with nature. Access to these places is never smooth or direct, and it is necessary to play with the labyrinth of the river network. Rivers, streams, ravines and water become the variables that appear without solution of continuity, associated with the great ensembles of Levantine Art.