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12 October 2015
Petroglyph in Spain marks when Atlantic and Mediterranean cultures met

A unique petroglyph near the Atlantic coast of northern Spain provides evidence that ancient Atlantic and Mediterranean cultures were in contact earlier than previously thought.
     The Auga dos Cebros rock art panel, on the Costa dos Castros in the extreme northwest Spain, is one of the greatest archaeological treasures on the Atlantic seaboard. The most famous petroglyph depicts a boat with a combination of oars and sails. Researcher Javier Costas Goberna searched archaeological records throughout Europe, discovering evidence of very similarly designed vessels in the Mediterranean roughly 4,000 years ago. Equivalent Atlantic boats of the time were primarily without sails, and of a different form.
     Fellow researcher Maria Ruiz-Galvez Priego identified the Auga dos Cebros boat as being remarkably similar to Aegean vessels of approximately 2000 BCE, particularly as depicted on ancient Cretan stamps. Like the Auga dos Cebros boat, those vessels featured outwardly-opened bows and sterns, masts and rigging that held sails as the primary means of propulsion, and lines that are interpreted to represent oars and/or oarsmen.
     The Auga dos Cebros petroglyph represents the only depiction of this type of seafaring vessel in the Atlantic/European region characteristic of the Bronze Age period. The researchers propose that the Auga dos Cebros boat likely originated in the Mediterranean, suggesting contact or trade with Atlantic cultures as much as 4,000 years ago.
     The rock art is located in a very delicate area, subject to erosion due to the fluctuating course of the river Vilar. There are plans to clear vegetation and record new rock art in the area this year, and to carry out more ambitious conservation in the near future.

Edited from Popular Archaeology (5 October 2015)

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