Some Iberian Concentric Circles

Fernando Coimbra

These engravings belong to the so called Galician-Portuguese Rock Art typical of the period at the end of the 3rd  and the beginning of the 2nd millenium BC. In the NW of the Iberian Peninsula the "language" of the engravings is different if the rocks are vertical or parallel to the ground. In the vertical case, the motives are weapons, men riding horses, hunting scenes, while in the horizontal case, the motives are usually symbols like circles, cup marks, spirals, labyrinths, swastikas, etc. Those last motives are usually related with prehistorical religions and cults.

fc4.gif (15710 bytes)

1.  Concentric circles at "Portela da Laxe" (Viascon, Pontevedra, SP)
This rock surface, parallel to the ground, presents very interesting engravings. The concentric circles are difficult to interpret:: Are they astronomical signs, altars, maps, or what else ? Surely they do have a symbolic and religious meaning, but as they appear all over the world, in different cultures, their meaning might change, e.g.: for the Hiwi indians of Venezuela the circle represents the perfection while in case of Fig. 4, the circles may depict the shield of a warrior.

fc3.jpg (27680 bytes)

2. "Lage dos Sinais" (The Rock of the Signs), at  "Barcelo" (P) / Recording on transparent foil
This rock depicts some examples of concentric circles inside concentric "UU". As suggested by Umberto Sansoni, those engravings were probably made by priests (or by artists guided by priests). Note: A hyperlink to the paper presented at IRAC 98 on this rock will be soon available.

fc1.jpg (21645 bytes)

3. Concentric circles at "Las Sombriñas" (Pontevedra, Galicia, SP).
In this engraving, one can see a central large spiral from where depart several lines terminated by concentric circles with cup-marks inside. There is also a swastika surrounded by a circle (located in the middle of the left-hand side), similar to the one at Lage dos Sinais (see Fig. 2).

fc2.jpg (13532 bytes)

4. Stele with Bronze age concentric circles (Archaeological Museum, Sevilla, SP)
On this stele, one can recognize five motives:  i) a schematic representation of a dead warrior /
ii) a sword /  iii)  a bow and arrow. /  iv)  a war charriot /   v) a shield, i.e. the concentric circles.
Such an interpretation is dictated by the context: the sword, the bow & arrow and the warrior.

Related link: click