Thursday, July 12, 2012

A trip to the past.

Just went on an amazing tour of the rock engravings in the Vale do Coa. I had seen photos of the engravings beforehand and so I knew what I'd see, but I wasn't expecting the impact seeing the engravings would have on me. The engravings are really just scratches on random rocks (some of them hard to even decipher) beside the river, but as you look at them and realize that they were carved by people, fairly similar to us, thousands of years (20 to 30 thousand) ago, and you become truly amazed. Amazed that the engravings have lasted all this time, amazed that the ancient people who made them lived in this very valley, stood on the same soil looking at the same hills with no thoughts about people 30 thousand years in the future You also wonder why they made the engravings; was if for religious reasons? out of superstition? territory markings? or were they just bored and filling time with what they had? :) Whatever the reasons, it's incredible to see --it's also amazing because the site was almost destroyed! The engravings were discovered just at the time that a dam was being built (in 1991) that would have flooded the entire area without anyone ever knowing what was lost!

The Douro River running one direction.
The hills around here are filled with wine vineyards!

The Coa River running the other direction.
This is the river valley where all of the engravings are found. About 90 kilometers worth of engravings have been found, all within 300 feet of the rivers edges.

We started at the top of the mountain (where the shots of the rivers was taken) at the Coa Valley Museum. It's an incredible site in itself, the design apparently winning several awards. The outside is awesome and the inside is made to give the feeling of being in caverns and valleys (totally forgot to take photos of the inside :P ) and the exhibits are laid out in a very stark, modern way contrasted with an eery, primitive soundtrack. I LOVED it. :)

A larger shot of the building. (sort of reminds me of the ship that picked up R2D2 and C3PO on Tatooine :)

Some of the artwork on the walls of the museum. They were huge and gorgeous, luminescent, lit up by black light.

All of them represented some of the engravings found in the Valley. These two orange people were my favorites.







And here we are, midway down the mountain in a town called Castelo Melhor (Better Castle, apparently better than the one that was destroyed just before this one was built, lol) in our tour jeep ready for the ride down into the valley.

Our guide pointing out the engravings and talking about the theories on why they were made, etc.

Some of the engravings were very hard to see and they were usually engraved over and over each other spanning about a 10,000 year period. One of the reasons for this is territory markings, another is hunting superstitions.

These you can see fairly well, a horse is the largest and there's also a goat at the top right. There's actually a couple other engravings on this rock, but they are very difficult to see. (photos were hard also as the sun was behind us shining right on the face of the rocks, so no shadows to hilight the engravings)

Another shot where you can actually see some of the engravings.

Here's a couple of sites with more info if you'd like to read more info and see more/better photos.
http://www.arte-coa.pt/index.php?Language=en
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/866/

xoxo

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