The iconographic, formal and technical analysis of the decoration elements of El Castillo and La Pasiega (Cantabria) highlights a heterogeneous distribution of the main themes, with distribution logics that are very different in each of the caves. In El Castillo, the main themes appear in distinct sectors, each one containing a central area with a high density of motifs and an end that sets its limit. Consequently, the decoration appears as a mosaic formed of small sets of motifs. In contrast, using the same analysis criteria for the cave of La Pasiega shows that, besides motifs of the same type spread in the network space, there are more structured decorated sets. The set of Gallery A shows an increasing number of motifs from the beginning to the end of the sector, with a maximum density at the level of the back areas. In turn, the set of Gallery B comprises animal figures that stood out all the more to the viewers that they were illuminated by natural light. Whereas the decoration of Gallery A is organised in the manner of deep sanctuaries, the ornamentation of the Salle du Mégacéros of Gallery B falls rather in the logic of open-air sanctuaries. info:eu-repo/semantics/published SCOPUS: ar.j
The Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave (Ardèche, France), famous for its remarkable rock art, also contains unique thermal-alterations such as rock spalling and color changes on the walls. These alterations resulted from intense fires that have not been observed in the other decorated caves thus far discovered. The functions of these unusual fires challenge archaeologists. To characterize these combustions, we used a numerical tool, previously validated with experimental data, to study the thermo-alterations in the Megaceros Gallery. This unprecedented approach in cave art research enabled us to assess the wood quantities and locations of the hearths responsible for the thermo-alterations. We report here that at least ten fires took place in the Megaceros Gallery while burning more than 170 kg of wood. Both simulation and in situ observations suggest that the branches were arranged in a tepee shape and purposefully positioned, some distance from the walls. This method therefore enables further analysis of the functions of these fires.