• Spain's news in English
 

Thieves destroy ancient rock painting in Spain

George Mills · 21 Apr 2014, 16:27

Published: 21 Apr 2014 16:27 GMT+02:00

Residents of the Santa Elena in Spain's southern Jaén province are reeling after news of the damage.

Local mayor Juan Caminero said the painting was now "irreparable" and condemned the act of vandalism as "heartless", Spanish daily La Vanguardia reported on Monday.

News of the attempted theft first emerged on Saturday after visitors to the Los Escolares Cave noticed the damage to the zoomorphic painting of a person resembling a swallow.

After noticing what looked like evidence of someone having tried to chip away at the image with a pick, they spotted fine dust and rock fragments on the floor.

Police are now investigating the incident.

Jaén province is home to 42 sites with UNESCO-listed rock paintings, many of them freely accessible to the public and without not properly protected, according to the Speleology Federation of Andalusia (Fae). 

These paintings are part of a significant group of several hundred sites along Spain's Mediterranean seaboard, and are the largest group of rock sites in Europe, according to Unesco.

"A lot of these places are abandoned and need greater supervision," Fae president José Antonio Berrocal told The Local.

"Although there is legislation protecting these sites in theory, there is a lack of political will," he added.

"Obviously you can't have policemen stationed in every cave, but we need a system of continuous monitoring with officers coming around periodically to monitor the situation," the cave expert explained.

Story continues below…

"In some cases, closing off those caves may be the only option to protect world heritage paintings," he added.

The Spanish rock sites display "a critical phase of human development...in paintings whose style and subject matter are unique," Unesco says on its website.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spanish government stuck in limbo as coalition talks stall
Photo: AFP

Spanish government stuck in limbo as coalition talks stall
2 hours ago

Party leaders are struggling to break the deadlock with no indications that a compromise can be struck.

Airbnb poses 'biggest threat' insists Spanish tourism chief
Photo: AFP

Airbnb poses 'biggest threat' insists Spanish tourism chief
3 hours ago

A hotel chain boss has lashed out at the home rental websites for "killing the exemplary tourism model".

The Local list
Six Spanish secrets on how to live to the age of a hundred
Ana María Vela, 114, is Spain's oldest resident. Screenshot Youtube

Six Spanish secrets on how to live to the age of a hundred
4 hours ago

Just what is the secret to Spaniards' longevity?

Australian hands over €100K to 'boyfriend' in Spanish scam
Photo: Raja Syazwina/Flickr

Australian hands over €100K to 'boyfriend' in Spanish scam
6 hours ago

The woman was scammed out of €100,000 believing she was paying her fictitious boyfriend's medical costs.

Misled shareholders file class action lawsuit against Bankia
Protestors demonstrate against Bankia. Photo: AFP

Misled shareholders file class action lawsuit against Bankia
6 hours ago

More than 600 small shareholders are suing the bank for misleading them to convert their savings to shares.

Could this be the last gasp for smoking in Spanish cinema?
Screen grab: aalexjander/YouTube

Could this be the last gasp for smoking in Spanish cinema?
8 hours ago

Spanish films feature four times as much smoking as those in Hollywood.

The Local list
Ten of Spain's most romantic getaways for Valentine's Day
Photo: Farid Iqbal Ibrahim/Flickr

Ten of Spain's most romantic getaways for Valentine's Day
9 hours ago

From sunset strolls to fireside cosiness Spain offers the perfect setting to woo your sweetheart. Here are some of our favourites.

Retrial ordered for Spaniard after 15 years on death row
Pablo Ibar has spent 22 years behind bars.Photo: AFP

Retrial ordered for Spaniard after 15 years on death row
10 hours ago

The top court in Florida has ordered a retrial for the triple murders more than two decades ago.

Spain reports first European zika case in pregnant woman
An Aedes aegypti mosquito in San Salvador. Photo: Marvin Recinos/AFP.

Spain reports first European zika case in pregnant woman
1 day ago

A pregnant woman in Spain has been diagnosed with the zika virus, in the first such known European case.

Spanish royals cancel state visit to Britain amid govt woes
Photo: AFP

Spanish royals cancel state visit to Britain amid govt woes
1 day ago

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have called off the first state visit to Britain in more than three decades because of the failure of Spain to form a government.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
UK rallies expats in Spain ahead of referendum on Brexit
National
Secret to long life? Spaniard lived to 107 on 'red wine diet'
National
Ten Spanish corruption scandals that will take your breath away
National
Watch: Gravity-defying stunts at Spain's Wind Tunnel Games
National
10 English words you'd never guess were really Spanish
National
Madrid to rename Francoist streets after terrorism victims
National
Olé? Bullfighter takes five-month-old baby into the ring
National
Watch: Moment south Spain struck by 6.3 magnitude quake
Travel
9 charming Spanish towns to visit before the tourists come
National
Heartbroken parents publish suicide note from bullied son
National
Spain launches new reality TV show: 'I want to be a nun'
National
Eleven very good reasons to be happy you live in Spain
National
Loyal dog waits two months at hospital door for dead owner
Younger, scruffier, and with a babe in arms: This is Spain's new elite
National
Ten adrenaline-fuelled adventures for thrill-seekers in Spain
National
Ten things you need to know about the new president of Catalonia
National
Spain's Princess Cristina: From fairy tale life to national 'baddie'
Politics
Seven reasons why forming a new government is mission impossible
National
Eight essential ways to tackle the winter months like a true Spaniard
National
How to be a mermaid: Swimming academy makes a splash in Spain
Lifestyle
10 resolutions to make the most of life in Spain in 2016
National
Spain’s public holidays in 2016: Official list
Features
Black diamonds: How a corner of Spain became world's truffle capital
2,948
jobs available