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Côa Valley Paleolithic Art. Portugal

The Côa Valley Paleolithic Art site is an open air sites of Paleolithic art in northeastern Portugal.

In the late 1980s, the engravings were discovered in Vila Nova de Foz Côa. The site in situated in the valley of the Côa River, and comprises thousands of engraved drawings of horses, bovines and other animal, human and abstract figures, dated from 22,000 to 10,000 years BCE. Since 1995 a team of archaeologists have been studying and cataloging this pre-historical complex and a park was created to receive visitors. In 1995, the Portuguese parliament and government, under Prime MinisterAntónio Guterres, created a park for archaeological study and public visiting. The engravings found mainly consist of animal representations, such as horses, bovines (aurochs) and caprines. Human figures and abstract depictions are also present.They are essentially made in vertical surfaces of rock along the valley of the river using engraving technique. Their size vary between 15 cm (5.91 in) and 180 cm (70.87 in) but the predominance is 40-50 cm in extension, often forming panels and compositions.

The style often feature bold lines but many are touched with fine, slick lines. These engravings are calculated to have been made as long as 20,000 years ago according to a study in 1995. The importance of this prehistorical art site remains on its rareness and extension; there are numerous prehistorical art sites in caves, but open air ones include only Mazouco (Portugal), Fornols-Haut (France), Domingo García and the Siega Verde in the same World Heritage Site (both inSpain), but none of these have the extension of the Côa valley site.

Archaeologists acknowledge sites like this as open air sanctuaries of prehistoric humankind.

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