Boletín 1

December 2009

UA Orilithic
Orienteering in the Paleolithic Magdalenian

The oldest map of Europe...

   Nomadic hunters 13,660 years ago were the authors of the first cartographic map of Western Europe.

   They came into the Ebro valley to hunt and made sketches of everything that could be of interest to other visits or those who came after them. It was like a treasure map that outlined the key points left.

   Our first Orienteering map was printed in a stone-odd kilo weight, 17.5 cm long, 10 wide and 5.4 of maximum thickness. A limestone block full of incisions, some of them easily identifiable as representing animals, including a large deer and two small calves. While overlapping lines are now able to interpret for, as any map of treasure worth its salt, has taken a while to decipher it: 15 years, the Long Distance highest in history.

   The stone was found inside the cave Abauntz, located at the township of Arraitz in Ultzama valley in Navarre, in 1993 during archaeological excavations that had been employed in almost 20 years. It was at a level which, thanks to carbon fourteen technique, was dated in the last stage of the Magdalenian, then is about 3,000 years more recent than the cave paintings of Altamira.

   One of those Magdalenian culture orienterers -more sculptor than painter—, having by hard floor Abauntz cave, spent his time in recording a small limestone, hard inside and soft on the outside, the picture that he saw around him. Pointing to the mountains, rivers, steps or bridges over water, flood areas and even areas that are most often found hunting. In addition, a number of signs pointed arches, which are to be beacons Paleolithic, to be reached by paths, and that could make those areas where our ancestors went to collect mushrooms, bird eggs, or flint to make tools.

   The discovery and decipherment of this treasure mapping, published last July 21 in the Journal of Human Evolution, was fruit of the effort the team of paleontologist, professor of prehistory at the University of Zaragoza, Pilar Utrilla, Department of Sciences of Antiquity.

   Our Orilithic was found next to an old home and not far from several stone chisels, with which it had been recorded in situ. But the area was a real gibberish, and for a long time they did not knew how to interpret. Even the finding was published as an artistic piece, very interesting, but without a special intrinsic content. One day, by chance, observing a part of the stone, they realized how it seemed one of the figures to the profile of Mount San Gregorio, which is just opposite the cave. They returned to the scene and saw the light: there were engraved the river and its tributaries, the flood meadow, deer, in plains, as appropriate, the goats in the mountains, and roads, marked with dot dot dot...

   Engravings seem to reproduce the winding riverbed, which was joined by two tributaries in the vicinity of two mountains. One of them identical to the mountain that can be seen today from the cave, with herds of ibex painted on their sides, on both sides of the canyon which is strategically situated opposite Abauntz cave.

   Also exist in Central Europe, two pieces of bone found in Moravia (Czech Republic), of greater antiquity than our stone, and that seem to reproduce the landscape, as well as some Western European cases may also be landscapes, such as the 'baton' found in El Pendo cave, in Cantabria.

   Although undoubtedly this stone Magdalenian is the clearest attempt to make a map to guide others. A sketch representing the surrounding landscape, with rivers, mountains and trails. A map that points important geographical points, with similar signs which are repeated in other parts found in the Cantabrian Sea. All of which shows the mapping capabilities of our ancestors, before Turks and Babylonians, 5,000 years ago, made the first territorial maps, and well before the Soleto map, dating from 500 BC and one of the first made on scientific grounds.

   Due to lack of resources and institutional support, have not returned to excavate. While in the cave remain the oldest levels of up to 50,000 years old...

Web page of Orienteering Team University of Alicante