Analysing the visual and sound perceptions in Macroschematic rock art landscapes

Alicante, Spain

Discovered during the 1980s in the mountains of Alicante (Spain), the rock art of the macroschematic tradition draws attention due to the large dimensions of its anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and abstract curvy motifs. The timeframe of this rock art tradition covers that of the cardial pottery –dated between ca. 5600 cal BC and ca. 5200 cal BC. It has been seen as the oldest stage of the Neolithic art sequence in this territory. Seeking to know more about the insertion of macroschematic sites in the landscape, the ERC Arsoundscapes project and colleagues from the University of Alicante revisited a first archaeoacoustics study underkaken a few years ago. In contrast to the methodology employed before, that implied an acoustic test campaign, in 2022 a set of GIS tools were used to analyse the visual and sound perception from the painted shelters. Based on the results of this study, it was argued that the sites with higher number of motifs and a greater range of types – sites identified as “main sanctuaries” by the literature – were those with the highest potential to convey visual and sound messages. Moreover, “secondary sites” were probably related to the movement of communities throughout the territory and, especially, to the paths leading to the central sanctuary of Pla de Petracos. Thus, the study allowed the development of a novel and richer interpretation of how Neolithic communities that painted macroschematic rock art sensed and engaged with the landscape in which they lived.

ERC Advanced Grant. Project title: “The sound of special places: exploring rock art soundscapes and the sacred” (2018-2024). Acronym: Artsoundscapes. EC Grant agreement number: 787842. PI: Margarita Díaz-Andreu.

Some references:
García Atienzar, G., Barciela, V., Santos da Rosa, N., & Díaz-Andreu, M. (2022). La modelización del paisaje: iconografía y percepciones visual y sonora en el arte rupestre macroesquemático. Virutal Archaeology Review, 13(27), 81–99.

Díaz-Andreu, M., García Atiénzar, G., García Benito, C., & Mattioli, T. (2017). Do you hear what I see? Analyzing visibility and audibility through alternative methods in the rock art landscape of the Alicante mountains. Journal of Anthropological Research, 73(2), 181–213.

Pasalodos, R. J., Alarcón Jiménez, A. M., Santos da Rosa, N., & Díaz-Andreu, M. (2021). Los sonidos de la Prehistoria: Reflexiones en torno a las evidencias de prácticas musicales del Paleolítico y el Neolítico en Eurasia. Vinculos de Historia, 10, 17–37.

Margarita Díaz-Andreu

Margarita Díaz-Andreu