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Breaking barriers between Science and Heritage approaches to Levantine Rock Art through Archaeology, Heritage Science and IT

Project description

Understanding and preserving prehistoric rock art on the Iberian Peninsula

Levantine rock art is particular to the Mediterranean side of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the largest collection of prehistoric figurative art in Europe, bearing witness to a critical phase of human development. Ambiguity surrounds the dating, the role in the evolution of creative thought, and the conservation challenges of this World Heritage art. The EU-funded LArcHer project intends to wholly address these issues combining archaeology, heritage sciences and state-of-the-art digital technologies. The aim is to achieve a new understanding of the historical and heritage values of this millenary legacy, providing deeper knowledge of early human societies and the birth of narrative art, and contributing to the long-term conservation of this priceless cultural heritage.


LArcHer project aims at pioneering a new and more comprehensive way of understanding one of Europe’s most extraordinary bodies of prehistoric art, awarded Unesco World Heritage status in 1998: Levantine rock art (LRA). The ground-breaking nature of the project relies on combining a multidisciplinary (Archaeology, Heritage Science and IT) and multiscale approach (from microanalysis to landscape perspectives) to gain a holistic view of this art. It also aims at closing existing gaps between science and heritage mainstreams, to better understand the values and threats affecting this tradition and bring about a change in the way we understand, care, use and manage this millenary legacy. LArcHer aims are: a) Use cross-disciplinary knowledge and methods to redefine LRA (i.e. new dating techniques to refine chronology, new analytical methods to understand the creative process); b) Use LRA as a proxy to raise new questions of global interest on the evolution of creative thinking and human cognition (i.e. the timing and driving forces behind the birth of anthropocentrism and visual narratives in the history of prehistoric art); c) Develop new research agendas to set off complementary goals between science and heritage and define best practices for open air rock art conservation and management.
Spread across Mediterranean Iberia, LRA is the only European body of figurative art dominated by humans engaged in dynamic narratives of hunting, violence, warfare, dances and so forth. These scenes are unique to explore past social dynamics, human behaviour and cultural practices. As such, it is the only body of European rock art with potential to answer some of the new questions raised by LArcHer.
Key to LArcHer are the systematic recording and analysis of the art through 3D Digital technologies, management and data storage systems, GIS, physicochemical analysis of pigments and bedrock and comparative analysis with other major bodies of art with equivalent developments.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 738 053,00
08007 Barcelona

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 738 053,00

Beneficiaries (2)