On one of the walls of the prehistoric cave El Castillo located in the province of Cantabria in northern Spain are 7 distinctly painted tectiforms: misshapen rectangles some, inset with another rectangle that is lined. There are two other vague ones floating horizontally on the lower right and then one more vertical one, barely visible, hugging the right of the picture. Also note that all the tectiforms are placed below the natural crevice of the cave wall. Above the cave wall is an image of 4 rows of dots in an irregular rectangle. The artist has purposely created a negative space that can suggest a female form or a tectiform or a burial ground. Any are possible I believe, but I think burial ground because it evokes an empty tectiform: an empty dwelling: the afterlife home.
There are also dots, lots of dots that morph to circles that morph to vertical marks. They are painted in strategic places- between two tectiforms; above a tectiform, but never in a tectiform.
This wall is known as the Corner of the Tectiforms. The images were painted 39,000 years ago. The red pigment was derived from the iron oxide in the cave.
Archaeologists posit that the tectiforms signify roofs or dwellings and the dots may be evidence of a group meeting place.
Dr. Genevieve von Petzinger, a paleoanthropolgist and Professor at the University of Victoria has documented that there are 32 signs, including dots, that are found consistently throughout the cave system of the Upper Paleolithic era. She posits that “the uniformity of her findings suggest that graphic communication, and the ability to preserve and transmit messages beyond a single moment in time, may be older than we think”.
I have been drawing the Corner of the Tectiforms and these symbols and dots almost every day since we returned from Spain, and I believe the drawing depicts birth, life and afterlife and the artist was a woman. I have no evidence to substantiate my theory, but to the best of my research abilities, including the idea that the tectiforms are dwellings and the dots communication tools, I could find no evidence to contradict my theory. There is still no explanation as to why the caves were painted: it is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. I certainly have no objection to being contradicted, but until then I shall tell my story of this Corner.
Early homo sapiens lived in groups, hunted animals and in northern Spain went deep inside caves to paint. We do not know why they traveled far from the entrance to commence painting but with respect to the Corner of the Tectiforms, the niche, albeit high on the cave wall (and higher now due to ground shifts), is a cocoon; a space of sacredness, a place that evokes the intimacy of the feminine. In my back story, birth and death are witnessable events and a woman artist was moved to record what she saw around her: a tiny little thing enters the world (a string of faint dots), becomes part of the group (all the dots) and eventually passes and ascends to the spiritual burial ground.
Archaeological evidence shows that every civilization memorializes fertility and death. I believe it is interwoven in the psyche of the earliest hominid. I believe this wall is a homage to the cycle of life:
The thin row of dots on the left that enters and exits Tech No. 2 is a child coming into the world.
The 2 sets of big dot groupings between signifies life.
And then one ascends to the spiritual world above symbolized by a sacred space.