Guided tour

Located in the municipality of El Cogul, in the county of Les Garrigues. A large block of stone known as Roca dels Moros lies within the vicinity of the village, beside the Set River.

A rock mural of the same name is hidden there in a small, open-air, natural chamber located at the base of this rock.

Visual evidence of rock paintings from various periods, cultures and rites can be found at Roca dels Moros, indicating the longevity and exceptional nature of this enclave.
Various societies have left their mark on the rock, from prehistoric hunter-gatherer communities to the present day, having painted and engraved there human and animal figures, retouching and reworking existing ones or even incorporating new figures into the mural.
A visit to the mural and its motifs provides us with an insight into the worldview of the human societies that inhabited the area many thousands of years ago.

The oldest figures on the rock are those of animals, having been engraved towards the end of the Palaeolithic or during the Epipalaeolithic. Some, such as this small leaping doe, have survived to the present day, while only a few traces of others have been conserved because of surface erosion.

These engravings originated in hunter-gatherer societies that lived off hunting wild animals and gathering wild fruits, roots and plants in their surroundings some 10,000 years ago. Goats, deer and bulls were part of the native fauna. These animals acquired great symbolic importance in the worldviews of the people who depicted them in the form of engravings of incredible plasticity and movement.

These animal figures acquired form and colour over the passage of time. Figures painted with brushes made from hair, plant fibres and feathers appeared and experimentation with forms and techniques began. The group of bulls presents us with a narrative art that creates visual stories through scenes.

Levantine art takes its name from the geographical area where it is located: the Levantine peninsula. It is a predominantly open-air painted art, in rock shelters (or caves) and vertical walls. Unlike Palaeolithic art, Levantine art is not found on other movable art surfaces, such as bones and horns, and this makes it difficult to date. Although debate has been raging for a hundred years, no consensus has been reached on the authorship of these paintings. There is a theory according to which their origin would be situated in the traditions of the last hunter-gatherer peoples from the Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic, between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, and extending up to the Neolithic period, while another theory views them as representations of the first communities of farmers and stockbreeders rooted from the outset in the Neolithic.

People and their actions became the protagonists of the visual tradition of Levantine art in scenes that seemingly allude to the symbolic world of rites and ceremonies.
Pairs of female figures in the central group of the rock seem to be arranged beside the figure of a smaller, naked man, surrounded by wild animals. The composition is seemingly linked to a fertility cult.
The women are the main figures of this composition, one of the most significant in the mural. They have stylised bodies in a three-quarter length position, wear long skirts down to their knees and their arms are bent as if they were being held. The relationship of the pairs is still a mystery.
These women are well dressed and their ornaments have been depicted with great detail. They are adorned with heavy bracelets, pendants or fine ribbons on their elbows, necklaces or chest, as well as pouches and perhaps headbands to hold their hair or headdresses.
It could be a representation of some ceremony or ritual commemorating a special life cycle occasion.
The colour palette of the paintings combines shades of red, brown, black and white to create outlines, fill in the bodies, repaint and restore them. This is the first time we have seen such two-colour work in Catalonia.
The number of figures was increased and available space gradually began to diminish. The people who painted them found creative ways to incorporate new elements, superimposing the figures and stretching their trunks. This is the case of the figure that looks like a four-legged woman, although it is in fact a couple sandwiched between the other women and the cervids.
The group of women is linked to the male figure and the faunal group, in which the stag is surrounded by does and other animals. These two scenes mirror each other and seemingly depict rituals related to both human and animal fertility. Rituals paving the way for the renewal of life and arrival of offspring, such as this little fawn displaying its characteristic spotted skin.
Transformations throughout history brought with them new ideas, characters and innovations to pictorial techniques. Two rock traditions coexist at Roca dels Moros: Levantine art and schematic art.
In the latter,human and zoomorphic figures were simplified and assumed schematic, abstract forms.

Schematic art is on display in the stag-hunting scene. An archer draws his bow and is about to shoot a stag, while another lies dead a little further on. The figures are painted with thick strokes made with the fingers or else a broad brush.

The Neolithic represented a technological, economic and social revolution in addition to a whole new way of life because of the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry. Walls and stones were not the only medium for artistic expression, as pottery also appeared for the first time. This fact allows us to date schematic paintings in time, between 7,000 and 3,000 years ago, while in the case of El Cogul, the parallels with ceramics bring us closer to the Bronze Age.

Roca dels Moros depicts another major change, the introduction of writing. Various engravings and inscriptions complement the mural and draw us nearer to the present.
Iberian inscriptions can be found in the rock that date back to the extensive indigenous cultural group of the Iberian Peninsula’s Mediterranean coastline 2,600 years ago. Inscriptions from these people that have yet to be translated have been conserved at Roca dels Moros.
Roman inscriptions have also been found. Romanisation led to a new way of life, new traditions and also the spread of Latin. Religious vows have been found among the Latin inscriptions, such as “SECVNDIO VOTUM FECIT” (Secundius has made a vow).
Finally, the engravings from the Middle Ages (4th-5th centuries), such as these three fish, provide continuity to the mural until the present day.
Today, a major architectural work stands next to the rock complex.
The Roca dels Moros Rock Art Site offers visitors the chance to learn about this valuable heritage and ensure its conservation, dissemination and knowledge.

The variety of cultural motifs and manifestations in the mural bring the prehistoric period to life as a world in continuous transformation, bearing witness to the transmission of culture throughout the centuries.

Roca dels Moros was a sacred space for ancient societies and continues to be a heritage site of exceptional cultural value today, a source of knowledge and research into the societies that have left their mark there.

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