Río Frío I rock shelter

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This station is located on the left bank of the river Frío, to the right of a series of caves next to the current Santiago-Pontones road, barely 250 m from Engarbo II. Its dimensions are modest, with a width at the mouth of 3.50 m by 1.80 m in height and a maximum depth of 2.20 m. It faces south-west and has an altitude of 1230 metres above sea level. Inside, only a zoomorphic head is visible, with the beginning of the neck reminiscent of a caprid, in a deep red colour.

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.