It is a schist slab showing seven semicircular motifs that, according to their shape and proportions, can be interpreted as huts

This engraving would be the first representation of a human social group recorded to date

The archeological excavations carried out at the Molí del Salt site (Vimbodí i Poblet, Catalonia, Spain) have uncovered a unique piece of mobile art at an Upper Paleolithic level with a chronology ranging between 13,000 and 14,000 years before present. The piece, whose study has been just published in PLOS ONE, is a schist slab, 18 cm long and 8.5 cm wide, that presents seven engraved semicircular motifs. Because of its shape and proportions, these motifs have been interpreted as huts and, therefore, this engraving would be a representation of a hunting-gatherer camp, the first one recorded to date.

The Molí del Salt excavations began in 1999 have had the support of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Conca de Barberà Regional Council, the City Council of Vimbodí i Poblet, and SOREA company. These works have been directed by Manuel Vaquero, researcher in the Rovira and Virgili University (URV) and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES).

According to the analysis carried out by Marcos García-Díez (University of the Basque Country) and Manuel Vaquero (URV/IPHES), the shape and metrics of the semicircular motifs show a close formal similarity with the huts built by various groups of hunter-gatherers known by ethnographic accounts (Kalahari Bushmen, Australian aborigines …). The number of huts on the slab (seven) also coincides with the usual size of a hunter-gatherer camp.

The Molí del Salt object is a singularity in the context of Paleolithic art, which is dominated by animal figures and abstract signs. Moreover, it informs us about a secular art, far from the ideological implications that are often attributed to the Paleolithic animal representations. Manuel Vaquero points out that “if we take into account that camps are the spatial manifestation of the hunter-gatherer social structure, the Molí del Salt slab can be considered the first representation of a social group known to date”.

Marcos García-Diez adds that “the technical analysis indicates that the seven motifs were engraved in a very short time using a similar technique and instrument. This suggests that the engraving would show a reality that the artist would have before their eyes”. It would be therefore one of the first documented examples of landscape art, with the particularity that this time the depicted landscape was exclusively human.


García-Diez, M., Vaquero, M. “Looking at the Camp: Paleolithic Depiction of a Hunter-Gatherer Campsite”. PLOS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143002)

This website uses its own and third-party cookies to improve the browsing experience as well as for analysis tasks.

What are cookies?

A cookie is a small file stored on the user's computer that allows us to recognize it. The set of cookies help us improve the quality of our website, allowing us to monitor which pages are useful to the website users or and which are not.

Acceptance of the use of cookies.

Necessary technical cookies

Always active

Technical cookies are absolutely essential for the website to work properly. This category only includes cookies that guarantee the basic functions and security functions of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.

Analytic cookies

All cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and are used specifically to collect personal data from the user through analysis, ads and other embedded content are called unnecessary cookies. You must obtain the user's consent before running these cookies on your website.