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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

Paleolithic art endangered in Praileaitz

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/08/04 17:28
The Basque Country is located in the axis of the area where Franco-Cantabrian paleolithic art was developed in Cro-Magnon times... Lascaux, Altamira are eastwards and westwards from our country, and although the findings around are not as spectacular as the ones from those sites, there's a bunch of caves with interesting things.

One of those is Praileaitz, where Magdalenian marvels have appeared. See documentation in English here.

A delicate Venus also was unearthed recently, and paintings have been discovered. New galleries haven't been explored yet, and more caves are presumed to exist in the same hill. Yet Praileaitz is endangered. Look at the map and at the picture: the red arch, that's Praileaitz. A sister-cave called Praileaitz 2 is no longer there...

Scientists and locals have been asking for protection, to stop the mining, and finally a decree with protection measures has been issued by the autonomous Basque Government. I'm just shocked by the decree. The mining will go on, dinamyte explosions are permitted just 100 meters from the paintings. A official map now depicts protection areas (!) shows radiuses with dinamyte cantities allowed. Whatever is left of the mountain, the area where unexplored galleries and caves may exist, can be exploited until disparition. I didn't expect such a joke from a Department of Culture, which is the one that produced this.

Thousands of years of past legacy, a legacy that could be saved for the generations to come, is endangered. What for? 10 years of mining explotation (an economic activity with zero positive side-effects in society, culture, technology or overall local wealth except for a handful of people) and all will be gone.

Please raise awareness if you can. The other side is trying to do so as well: the Real Sociedad, regional football team, has a new sponsor for 2007-2008, Construcciones Amenabar, the mining company responsible for this.  If you happen to know institutions related to prehistoric art, make them know what's happening here. Visitors to the Basque Country: there's beauty and culture at the Guggenheim Museum, yes, but if  you are offered the option to write down a feedback note at any site that you see, mention Praileaitz and ask for effective protection. Thanks.

Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

Ingelesen hilerria

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