C A N T A B R I A   U N I V E R S I T Y
La Garma (Omoño, Ribamontán al Mar)  
    Horse   La Garma cave, located in the mountain with that same name in the Cantabrian village of Omoño, is part of a complex karstic system of galleries situated at different heights and sometimes comunicated between them by vertical chasms. Besides these galleries, other caves are known, some of them since the beginning of the century (El Truchiro, El Mar...) and others that long time ago could have been conected to this karstic system, were recently discovered.

The gallery in which we are interested because of its parietal representations is the inferior one. It was found the 2nd of November of 1995 during the excavation that a team from the University of Cantabria leaded by P. Arias Cabal and R. Ontañon Peredo, was realizing in La Garma A and B caves. During these works, J.M. Ayllón and M.L. Serna, speleologist, got ready to explore the inferior galleries to study the topography of the system that connected with Garma A, when they localized the rupestrian drawings and the superficial deposit in the inferior gallery. The fall that closed the old entry to this gallery has permitted the conservation of the superficial deposit and the rupestrian drawings.

During the first documentation works of the artistic representations, 4 different areas have been segregated. In the entrance area, several figures have been found, pointing out the figure of a horse, which remains the Ekain cave in Guipúzcoa, and a possible carnivore, one bison, and other figures of animals and signs. Farther, in the entry to a small room, that gets open in the right side, the engraved figure of a hind has been found. This figure was partly covered by a concretion on its rear half. Several engraved and black painted representations have been found inside the room: hinds, goats and one bison that takes up a whole wall deep down.

Farther inside, a second area with paintings is situated. In one of the room´s niche, one red drawn hind is located, the style reminds the ones of La Pasiga A and C, Covalanas, Arenaza, etc. Farther inside in the cavity, in an area where the floor is covered by fauna remains and Magdalenien industries, a horse figure has been located. This figure was drawn with black linear trace and partial flat tint, and it takes advantage of the rock shape to represent the cervical-dorsal line.

Close to the chasm that nowadays serves as the access to the gallery, we again find several panels. In the first of these panels, one red painted aurochs, two caprids, one female megalocero bellow the aurochs and one non-identifiable quadruped are located. A mask is situated close to this panel, this representation takes advantage of the rock natural shapes, to which the eye and the the mouth have been added with black paint. This figure is similar to others that appear in El Castillo and Altamira caves.

The rest of the figures are located in the deep inside galleries. Non-figurative traces, matched finger tracings, etc... have been represented in a linen on the left wall. This is similar to the ancient stage of the Llonin cave, in Asturias. Opposite to this panel, and in other situated farther inside, several negative hands have been represented.

Finally, more negative hands have been represented where a chasm connects with the system´s inferior gallery, through which a subterranean river runs. Opposite to this hands, in vertical positions there is a black painted bison. The position of this bison is forced becausse of the author´s desire of taking advantage of a fissure on the wall as the cervical-dorsal line of the bison.

The first valuation of this group made by the investigators has brought them to think that the cave has been decorated at least in three different moments. The first decoration could have been made during the Gravettian: negative hands and non-figurative traces panel. In another more advanced moment, in the Solutrean, the red paintings would have been made, while the black figures and most of the engravings would be from the Magdalenien.

Auroch, hind and goat
Finger tracings
  P R E H I S T O R I C   A R T