The Upper Paleolithic was marked by a succession of glaciations and interglaciations. In the final moments of the last great glaciation (Würm) the climatic conditions improved and the cold temperatures softened. The Siega Verde area was in a privileged place during that period, given that the high walls of the valley favored a warmer temperature in it and the presence of more vegetation. In addition, the presence of deep pools at the bottom of the river allowed a constant source of water, thus forming a watering hole for the varied fauna of the Upper Palaeolithic.
Perhaps, the sum of all these elements was the inspiration for the people of the Upper Palaeolithic to leave their story captured on the spectacular outcrops of slate, a story of which good fragments have come down to our days, fragments that must be preserved so as not to fall into oblivion
Before the discovery
For thousands of years, the area has witnessed numerous socio-cultural changes that range from the most absolute tranquility of calm nature to the roar of great wars. During the most recent history this place has been used for grazing and leisure by the population. These engravings have been silent witnesses of innumerable bathing afternoons, grazing days, snacks and good times. Moments of which Paleolithic engravings have been a part and that are still in the memory of many people.
During 1988, a series of research projects were carried out in the area by the Museum of Salamanca, directed by Manuel Santonja and Rosario Pérez.
Thanks to the testimony of Ángel Hervalejo (a native of Serranillo), an engraving of a Paleolithic equine was found on one of the slate rocks of what is now the southern area of the site.
After that first discovery, the area was searched confirming the inevitable, the area was rich in paleolithic representations.
All this gave rise to successive research campaigns for the location and documentation of the engravings in the area, resulting in (to this day) 91 decorated panels on the blackboards and 443 represented figures.
The research work concluded that the Siega Verde engravings were represented using 3 different techniques; contour picketing, incision and abrasion. Among the most represented animals, the equids stand out, followed by the bovids, cervids and caprids. On some occasions the figures appear associated in the same rock and, on other occasions, we can find the isolated figures.
Chronological studies indicated that the antiquity of the engravings ranges from 20,000 years to 10,000.
As the site was being investigated, an increasing number of attacks on Paleolithic engravings were also observed (especially in the 1990s). Then began a fight against the clock to protect these cave manifestations and prevent their destruction.
Due to the importance and fragility of these manifestations of prehistoric rock art and the need to grant it a legal framework for its protection, the Siega Verde Archaeological Site was declared Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) in 1998 and, on August 1, 2010, UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the highest range of protection that can be granted to a place with these characteristics. But it is up to everyone to adopt the necessary measures and behaviors for their conservation, protection and study.
Currently you can visit a representative part of the engravings of this site and you can choose different types of visit. The site is visited by people from all corners of the planet and is part of the Itinerary of the Council of Europe “Prehistoric Cave Art Paths”, being in 2018 the first site to obtain the quality certificate of “European Cave Heritage”.