El Pendo Cave

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Site type:
Site function:
Habitation site, Decor cave
43.38, -3.91

El Pendo Cave is a prehistoric cave located in the autonomous community of Cantabria, in Spain. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage since July 2008, within the set "Cave of Altamira and Palaeolithic rock art of the Cantabrian Coast". It has been the subject of numerous archaeological excavations that have revealed the existence of a relevant stratigraphy at the site.

In 1907 Alcalde del Río discovered at the bottom of the cave some engravings that traditionally have been placed in the Lower Magdalenian and that would represent a bird and a possible horse. The campaigns of Jesús Carballo brought to light one of the best collections of peninsular furniture art, among whose objects was found the famous perforated cane. During the fifties, the cave recorded successive excavations that were directed by Professor Martínez Santaolalla and hosted the II International Course of Field Archaeology in the summer of 1955.

Located in the neighborhood of El Churi in Escobedo, in Camargo, the cave of El Pendo is one of the most cited sites in archaeological historiography and one of the obligatory references in the study of the peninsular Paleolithic. It has been located since 2016 in the ANEI Cuevas del Pendo-Peñajorao.

Between 1994 and 2000 the archaeologists Ramón Montes and Juan Sanguino reactivated the work in the oldest part of the sequence (Middle Palaeolithic). In August 1997 they discovered by chance a set of cave paintings located in a large frieze with an approximate age of about 20,000 years that had gone unnoticed by the existence of a crust of dirt that masked them. They are mostly deer, but there is also a horse, a possible aurochs, and a goat, in addition to various signs. They appear painted in iron oxide, using the techniques of buffering and spot ink.

The value of the discovery lies in the spectacular nature of the whole, in the information it provides about Palaeolithic rock art, and in the fact that it occurs in one of the sites of southwestern Europe essential for the knowledge of this period.