Museum of the Origins of Man
THE ORIGIN OF THE TEMPLE WITH LITHIC ALTAR AND BICEPHALIC GOD IN THE PALEOLITHIC
Fig. 35.1) In the Cave of El Juyo, Santander, Spain, which remained closed for millennia, and therefore with perfectly preserved stratigraphy, there was found a square monolith weighing 2,200 lbs, brought on purpose into the cave.
The monolith, a slab of limestone 180 cm long, 119 cm wide and 15 cm thick, weighing about 1000 kg, was (and still is) leaning on a ground stage, and contains sacrificial offerings, consisting of mollusks, seeds, and bones of small animals, spear heads and other artifacts, with alternating layers of earth rosettes neatly arranged.
This monolith was considered an altar by the discoverers: anthropologists Prof. Freeman and Klein of the University of Chicago, USA and Spanish archaeologists Echegaray e Barandiaran.
About their discovery Freeman and Echegaray in 1981 published "El Juyo: a 14,000 year old sanctuary from northern Spain". In front of the altar was placed a sculpture which depicts half a human head joined to half a feline head, which represents a god.
The discoverers thought at the time that the Cave of El Juyo was the oldest known temple. Its absolute dating is 14,000 years ago.
It is necessary to make a comparison between this and the Franco-Cantabrian caves with zoomorphic paintings, which are coeval with the Temple of El Juyo. In these caves, which are tens, no stone altars were found, or anthropomorphic stone sculptures or bicephalic zooanthropomorphic ones, but only zoomorphic paintings; and therefore they are cult sites or sacred places for magic rituals, but not temples with deities. People who created zoomorphic painting, moreover, did not carve large stone sculptures.
The Temple of El Juyo is connected to the Paleolithic civilizations that produced colossal sculptures and megaliths, and is at the origin of the post-Paleolithic prehistoric temples, and also of historic temples.
The zooanthropomorphic sculpture found in the cave, being unique, is testimony of a unique god, at least in that temple, 14,000 years ago.
Fig. 34.1) Bicephalic zooanthropomorphic stone sculpture of El Juyo, now in the Museum of Altamira and original drawing (see Fig. 9.9).
The drawing of the sculpture was made by its American and Spanish discoverers. The three demonstrative drawings are executed by P. Gaietto.
Genova, 2002, August, 14
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