Inora Newsletter #42


New field research at La Fuente del Trucho (Asque-Colungo, Huesca) was started in 2000 after a visit to the site. Following conversations on the possibility of restarting studies on the cave a collaborative agreement was made between the Laboratoire d’Éudes Paléolithiques of UNED and the Huesca Museum; the obligatory authorisation, as well as a grant, was requested from the Servicio de Patrimonio Arqueológico, Paleontológico y Parques Culturales of the Diputación General de Aragón.

From the start, we adopted the aerial grid pattern set up in the cave after its discovery to localise all the figures found at the beginning of the 1980s. Then, from this preliminary work, we systematically began to study all the surfaces, so as to digitally treat all the images, to check if all the figures had been correctly identified and to see if new representations could be found. Eventually, we did carry out three brief surveys in 2000 and 2001 (two in the latter year). We thus took 1400 digital photographs directly, which corresponds to nearly 7000 digital images after treatment. During the work for the second survey, we were able to verify that the aerial grid was no longer reliable, as, over time, it had moved. So we decided to delimit the panels in function of the morphology of the cave and its accidents and to adopt this new methodology for all the documentation process.

The various decorated surfaces of the cave were thus divided into 22 panels, a generic term covering a greater or lesser quantity of figures in a varying state of conservation: for example certain images were in perfect condition, while others had obviously suffered from the passage of time.

General commentary on the representations

The provisional inventory of the figures is 140 at present, as shown in the table below and on the plan (Fig. 1). Hands are the most numerous (30%), followed by organised series of dots (10%) and equids (7.85%), the others being less represented.

Remains of hands
Undetermined animals
Organised series of dots
Isolated dots
Finger marks
Shapeless marks
Various marks

La Fuente del Trucho: Provisional inventory table.

Fig. 1. Plan of the cave with localisation of the panels identified.

Fig. 2. Digital treatment of the right part of Panel VI where there are two horses and a sign. In the central part on the left can be seen the beginning of a series of dots that are found again at the back of the cave.

Fig. 4. Digital treatment of the Panel XII horse. A line on the chest has been interpreted as a projectile.
Work on the site is at present suspended and awaiting the cleaning of all the surfaces, at the moment obscured by a thick superficial layer resulting from smoke, manganese and humidity. As soon as the restoration work is completed we will carry on and finish the study using all the most modern means of lighting and optics, that is to say ultraviolet, infrared and black light. However, the laboratory work is continuing on the graphic material available. We have started to reorganise the photographic archives and to make the necessary adaptations to the old grid system so that it is converted to our new panel method, so that information access is more systematic and rational.
Fig. 3. Digital treatment of the horse from Panel VI. The ventral M can clearly be seen.

For example, one of the figures formerly in Square C8 now forms part of Panel VI. Each of the panels is recorded on an individual CD-Rom, and each is also put onto an external hard disk, to avoid any accidental loss of information. In each archive we keep direct images while those resulting from a digital treatment are stored otherwise. All paper copies are also adapted to the new methodology.


The number and quality of the representations, particularly of the hands, make Fuente del Trucho an exceptional site. Apart from anything else, the cave is isolated in a geographic zone where no other decorated site from the Upper Paleolithic is known. We hope that the authorities of the Comunidad Autonoma de Aragón will soon be able to resolve the administrative problems concerning this cave and that we will be able to continue and finish the study.

Sergio Ripoll 1, Vicente Baldellou 2, Francisco Muñoz 1 & Pedro Ayuso 2

1 Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia. Departamento de Prehistoria e Historia Antigua. Avda. Senda del Rey, nº 7, 28040 Madrid. Email

2 Museo de Huesca. Gobierno de Aragón. Plaza de la Universidad, nº 1 22002 Huesca. Email:

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