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Redesigning European rock art from the outer edge

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Redesigning European rock art from the outer edge - the confluence of Prehistoric Art traditions in North-West Iberia. By Dr Lara B Alves

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Organised by Scotland's Rock Art Project (ScRAP)


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The northwest of Iberia is a particularly interesting region for the study of European Prehistoric Art for it is one of the few regions where two major rock art traditions are known to meet along a tangible geographical boundary. Yet, until the early 2000s, they were believed to be subsequent in time and that is perhaps why they have never been the object of a joint in-depth study. Each tradition echoes distinct supra-regional connections. On one hand, Atlantic Art, best known as “cup-and-ring marks” in Britain and Ireland, is almost exclusively carved on open-air outcrops and finds its southernmost limits of distribution in NW Portugal. On the other hand, Schematic Art is typically painted on rock shelters and expands across the western Mediterranean. An investigation into the dialogue between the two traditions meant thinking about the processes of transmission, adoption, rejection and dilution underlying their presence in neighbouring regions. The circumstance of carrying out a comparative study allowed us to look beyond what had been seen, to challenge the traditional chronology of Atlantic Art and reinforce the idea that both rock art tradition influenced two megalithic art styles.

About Lara: Lara Bacelar Alves is a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Centre of Studies for Archaeology, Arts and Heritage Sciences (CEAACP) of the University of Coimbra (Portugal). Her main interests are rock art studies and the Anthropology of Art. Since 1997, Lara's research has focused on the social and cultural contexts of Iberian Prehistoric art and the relationship between the different traditions that come together in the region. She lectured at Minho and Lisbon Universities. As post-doctoral fellow for the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) between 2009-2018, she directed a number of multi-year research projects. Lara is currently the Principal Investigator for LandCRAFT, a project focusing on the research of Schematic Art of the Côa valley.

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