Rock art on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

Geologically the Spanish Canary Islands belong to Africa and are only 100 km west of the coast of Morocco. The Island of La Palma in particular is very rich in rock art.

The history of settlement of the Canary Islands is still not clear, but it is likely that the population of the native Guanches came from Africa and lived at a Neolithic until the Spanish conquest in the early 15 Century. The Islands were already known during the Greek and Roman periods.

One rock panel in La Zarza
La Zarza rock panel

The rock art of La Palma is rich in concentric, linear and spiral motifs and is found on rocks and rock outcrops. The style is often compared to megalithic art found in Irish tombs [McMann80], as it shows more similarity to those motifs than to rock art found in Britain or the Iberian peninsular. On the other hand Bradley [Bradley97] pointed out that the carvings on La Palma are probably not cultural connected to the Irish tomb decorations since they are not contemporary. It is not known yet when the carvings on La Palma were created, but it might be as late as 500 BC or even younger.

The locations of the rock art show certain patterns: Most are located in prominent places, either in a valley of ravine or on higher grounds with good overview to the surrounding landscape. Many locations have a cave in close proximity.

La Palma sites: