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Engarbo Rock-Shelters

Andalucía (Spain)

Natural Environment:

Sierra de Cazorla, Segura and las Villas.

Regional Archaeological Context:

The rock art in Engarbo rock-shelters is closely related to other paintings in rock-shelters in the Andalusian part of the Spanish Levant, listed as World Heritage. To be precise, with the Vélez group (Estecho de Santonge, Lavaderos de Tello, Chiquita de los Treintas), the Santiago de la Espada-Pontones group (Cañada de la Cruz, Engarbo I and II), the Quesada group (Cueva de Encajero, Tíscar, Monolo Vallejo) and the Aldeaquemada Group (Tabla de Pochico, Prado del Azogue) as well as with the Albacete groups.

Site History:

ENGARBO I: the paintings were discovered in spring 1996, and are now the main group of Levantine art in Andalucia, as well as being near the Nerpio centre.

ENGARBO II: the rock art was discovered in 1997 by M. Soria, although one of the three panels was covered by lime, hiding part of the paintings. In 1998, in a project of the Cultural Properties Department, the layers of lime were removed mechanically by E. Guillament and J. Chillida

Archaeological evidence at the site:

ENGARBO I is a long shallow rock-shelter which was used in historical times to hold a series of farm buildings (rooms, cow-sheds, hen-houses, ovens and so on), which were in use until recent times. The rocky base of some parts of the rock-shelter may have been quarried, and some of the paintings are now too high for the modern observer. However, due to this, the groups unaffected by the more recent buildings were preserved. However, other figures show signs of damage. Others might be covered by the layers of lime on some parts of the rock-shelter.

ENGARBO II is a complex area, with a series of openings, two of which are connected by a passageway. They are at an altitude of 1220m and, except the opening with Panel I facing south, the rest of the rock-shelter faces east. The central part is about 3m deep and 5m high.

Short Description:

ENGARBO I: The different “motifs” are in three panels, which, apart from the second one, are at a mean height of 3-4m above the present floor, and cover a length of 25m. From right to left for the visitor, the panels contain three clear groups of paintings. 
Panel I has three groups of paintings; the first with animals at rest. The second, and also the third are groups with anthropomorphs and zoomorphs. There is an outstanding scene in which a human figure appears to be holding a goat by its horns, describing the capture of a wild animal alive (Group II). In Panel II there are several poorly conserved anthropomorphs in red. In Panel III, there are two groups, the first with anthropomorphs and zoomorphs; in the second two sub-groups display a hunting scene, at two times.

ENGARBO II: Three panels are located in different parts of the site. The first is on the right of the main rock-shelter, facing south (Panel I), the second in the main rock-shelter and was documented after it had been cleaned. Panel III is in a poorly protected opening on the left of the main rock-shelter. 
While Panel I contains small badly conserved anthropomorphs and zoomorphs, Panel II, covered by lime which was removed during the restoration work, has up to three groups: Group I: deer; Group II, human figures; Group III, with animals (goats and deer) and men. The third Panel has a few anthropomorphs and zoomorphs.


The rock art is clearly Post-Palaeolithic. Although they are attributed either to the Epipalaeolithic or the Neolithic, the latter is increasingly seen as the most likely age of the paintings.

Type of Site: Rock-shelter
How to Find the Site:

ENGARBO I: It is located very near the boundary between the provinces of Granada and Albacete, near the Nerpio centre. The site is 4km south of the town of Santiago de la Espada, near a group of ruined farmhouses forming a extended and uninhabited village. The limestone cliff with the rock-shelter is on the left bank of the Río Frío, shortly before its confluence with the Zumeta, at an altitude of 1207m.

ENGARBO II: It is at the base of the cliffs on the left bank of the Río Frío, on a pronounced bend in the river, after going through a small gorge. It is up-river of the first site, a few hundred metres from Engarbo cliffs, which associates it with Engarbo I.

Website: www.elyelmofestival.com/sierra-segura/patrimonio_artistico-htm 

State/Region: Andalucía
Province/Department: Jaen
Municipality: Santiago-Pontones
Town: Santiago-Pontones
Location: Engarbo Cliffs, on the Río Frío 

Booking and access:

The keys for both rock-shelters can be obtained from Santiago de la Espada Town Hall.

Nearby cultural destinations

Natural Park of Cazorla, Segura and las Villas. Úbeda and Baeza regions, etc.

Nearby natural destinations

Natural Park of Cazorla, Segura and las Villas, Sierras de Mágina and Morena, and the Guadix-Baza corridor.

Accommodation near the site

Cazorla, Quesada, Santiago de la Espada, Úbeda and Baeza, or any local village.


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9th May 2010 the Council of Europe granted the Mention European Cultural Route to the PRAT-CARP network.