Panoramic of the Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley, photo by João Romba
Across millennia, the schist rocks delimiting the bed of the Côa River have been converted in art canvases over thousands of years, being used for engravings that are the legacy of our ancestors' creative instinct.
Remontando ao Paleolítico Superior, estes "painéis" ao ar livre e os “habitat” identificados são testemunhos do povoamento datáveis de entre há 30 000 e 10 000 anos, expressão da vitalidade e da mestria de concepção dos caçadores artistas do Côa. Esta longa galeria de arte dá-nos registos mais recentes, do período Neolítico e da Idade do Ferro.
These open-air panels and the habitats that can be identified date back to the Upper Palaeolithic and they are testimony to the occupation of the land and a vitality and mastery of drawing that have given us a 25,000 year timeline. This long gallery of art provides us a record of the Neolithic period and the Iron Age, then swiftly racing through two thousand years of history to inscribe religious representations, names and dates in the Modern Age and continuing until only a few decades ago.
The motifs, which are nearly all engraved, have themes and use techniques and conventions that are common to contemporary works of Western Europe and those that would be discovered in the 19th century in the closed-in environments of caves in France and Cantabria, which would be called great art at the turn of the century. The Côa art emerges in the 20th century, where a daily and seasonal play of light and dark exposes and hides the art in a wonderful sequence of revelation and concealment.
The final seventeen kilometres of the Côa valley contain hundreds of Palaeolithic engravings along the river's banks, extending all the way to the River Douro. This zone has been made into Portugal's first Archaeological Park. This Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 2 December 1998.
This entire open-air art collection can be seen at the Côa Museum and at the visitable sites.
Information from the website Arte-Côa.pt.
Art panel at the Archaeological Park, photo by João Romba
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