Las Piedras – Decorated Stones or Mineralised Rocks?

Hat tip to Luis, who pointed me towards a website by the name of Las Piedras, on which there are numerous images of stones recovered from fields in southern Spain – although there is no accompanying text, the word is that the author of the site collected a large number of pebbles whilst out field-walking. Her finds exhibit what at first appears to be some sort of mineral inclusion, as all the rocks, which arepiedras IMG_7719b light in colour, are marked by lines and shapes which in many cases, appear as if they could have been made by human hand, but look as if they could be natural.

There is a distinct linearity in many of the pebbles – wavy lines, straight lines and crosses, for example, whilst still others hint vaguely at what might be human or animal shapes, even a boat, rather in the style of North African rock art panels, or the Iberian Neolithic, whilst yet still others bear shapes which hint at some sort of ancient alphabetic or numeric script.

But rather than dwell on what they might or might not be, I prefer to leave it to readers to decide for themselves – my knowledge of geology is scant, and mineralogy even less, and it may well be the case that someone out there will have an immediate explanation that points to a natural origin for these dark markings. Alternatively someone might have seen a similar type of rock art from elsewhere in the world and offer a clue that might confirm their artificiality – obviously it’s difficult to make any conclusive decision with only images on a web page to make a call, but as far as I understand it, the author has spoken to various people she considered capable of offering further clues, but has thus far come up blank – one opinion was that the markings were caused by ploughing, but that seems unlikely to me.

The site is divided into various sections, with one gallery, Las Piedras giving a glimpse of some of the stones and the context in which they were found, whilst the second, Los Lugares gives a map of the general area, with highlighted areas which link to images of stones found in those places.

The final section, Los Signos, takes us through a series of images where many of the stones appear to have designs or abstract figures, amongst which are to be found some of the more compelling markings – although as I mentioned earlier, I have no real way of confirming artefactual authenticity, any idea of how old such humanly modified rocks might be, or indeed whether they just appear to be artificial to eyes that automatically make graphic assumptions based on past visual experience.

The author professes to be just as puzzled by these stones as myself and Luis, and I’m told she has posted the images online with the express purpose of discovering more about them via an online response from someone out there who might know one way or the other. At the very least, there are many fascinating images that might just spark the curiosity, so feel free to head on over and check them out.

3 thoughts on “Las Piedras – Decorated Stones or Mineralised Rocks?

  1. Notice also Blanca’s blog:, where she has been posting random or not so random thoughts on the mysterious pebbles. It’s all in Spanish.

    If you browse back, you can notice that she has already consulted with some prehistorian, who dismissed her saying they were plough marks, with an agronomist who declared they could not be plough marks and that she has made a home chemical experiment that revealed that the pigment has iron (something that looked quite apparent to me on first sight).

    I think that some resemble the Iberian rock art style, while others could be Tartessian or Iberian script characters (in one case I think the expression BABAAL can be read, though it depends what script interpretation you follow). Nevertheless many are too loose, abstract or merely imprecise to say what did the author wanted to express.

  2. They are not incisions (as would be the case of plough marks) but something on top of the stone, intentional or whatever. If you browse the site, you’ll eventually notice it. An agronomist has apparently stated they can’t be plough marks.

    That was also my first impression but soon Tim and I decided that, even most of the drawings are very abstract and ambiguous, they seem painted or something of the like. Plough would scarify the stones, not paint over them.

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