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Tito Bustillo Cave Art

The Main Panel

The Main Panel is the only room open to the public and the most important one because of the large number of representations and the wide variety of artistic techniques and styles.

A traditional inventory registered almost a hundred representations, with fauna outnumbering signs: 30 deer, 13 horses, 9 reindeers, 5 goats, 4 bisons, 1 uroch, 2 unidentified animals, 17 signs and 10 lines of difficult interpretation.

These motifs are arranged in a complex stratigraphic sequence in which up to nine different Magdalenian phases were identified in their execution. However, in recent years this traditional approach has been revised and two distinct phases, correlating to two different dates over the course of this cultural era, have been identified in the complex superposition of the panel. 

- Early or pre-Magdalenian (predating 20,000 BP) typified by red signs and scant animal figures.

- Later or Magdalenian (17,000 – 12,000 BP) executed on a large stain of red pigment. On this red layer, heads of hinds are engraved with multiple striated lines, a formal and technical stereotype widely used in northern Spanish cave art. Also prominent on this panel are red, black and violet zoomorphic representations – predominantly horses and reindeers, but also some bovine and deer-like figures. Some examples show colour-wash associated with scraping of the contours to make the representations stand out against the red background.

Standing far from the wall, visitors are only able to see clearly the large horses and the dichromatic reindeers, as well as some of the larger signs.

Distinguishing the rest of the representations clearly not only requires placing oneself prudently close to the wall but also a correctly aimed light, lots of time, and a significant dose of expertise.