Three Generations of Asturian-American Painters


About Asturias, Spain

Asturias is part of "green Spain" because of its mild climate with adequate rainfall for forests. The province is located on the Cantabrian Sea, on the north coast of Spain. To the east is the province of Cantabria, formerly known as Santander; to the west is Galicia.

Perhaps as far back as 100,000 years ago, Paleolithic humans of the Achelensian culture lived in what is today Asturias, inhabiting the coastal regions and all but the very highest mountain areas. This culture left behind stone tools for cutting, striking, and scraping.

Later, in the Paleolithic Superior, some of the most magnificent cave paintings were found in Asturias, in caves such as Tito Bustillo near Ribadesella. Exquisite carvings of bone and rock have also been found.

From about 4500 BCE to 2000 BCE during the Neolithic period, a Megalithic culture which built huge stone structures flourished in Asturias and many other locations in Europe. These people left behind numerous menhirs, which are standing stones, sometimes aligned in groups with astronomical significance. They may represent the vertical dimension of the divine and the phallus. Dolmens are table-like structures with upright stones supporting one or more flat rocks on top. The whole construction was covered with earth. Some appear to have been used for burial of the dead. It is possible that the dolmen represents the female principle. Dolmens in Asturias were much smaller than those found in Brittany and other regions.

dolmen, Megalithic culture, Monte Areo, Asturias

JoAnne at the entrance of
a stone Dolmen built by the
prehistoric Megalithic
Monte Areo, Asturias
June 2000

stele, 1200 BC, Bronze Age

Bronze Age, c1200 BC

Galicia and Asturias share many cultural characteristics. Like much of northern Spain, both were settled by Celtic peoples in the bronze age. Today, however, these provinces retain more Celtic influences than other regions on the Iberian peninsula. The ruins of Celtic hill-fort settlements, called "castros," are still visible throughout the region. The castros usually have earthen defensive walls. Some sites, like the one at Gijón's Castro de Campa Torres, have been excavated. Castro de Campa Torres also has a reconstructed Celtic round home with thatched roof.

round Celtic hut with thatched roof, Castro de Campa Torres, Gijón, Asturias

Art in front of a
reconstructed round Celtic
hut with thatched roof

Castro de Campa Torres,
Gijón, Asturias, Spain
June 2000

The influence of the Celts is still present: both provinces still have many citizens with fair skin and blonde or red hair, The bagpipe, or gaita, is a popular instrument in Celtic Spain and the folk tunes are very similar to those heard in Ireland, Scotland, or Brittany.

The Romans also came to Spain. After conquering the Celts, the Romans sometimes, as at Campa de Torres, built towns in the same locations the Celts had chosen.

Castro de Campa Torres, Gijón, Asturias, Celtic and Roman settlements

Castro de Campa Torres,
site of Celtic & Roman settlements.

Gijón, Asturias, Spain

reconstructed Roman home, Castro de Campa Torres, Gijón, Asturias, Spain

JoAnne in front of a
reconstructed Roman

Castro de Campa Torres
Gijón, Asturias, Spain
June 2000

map of Asturias, Spain

Map of Asturias, Spain
Cities, neighboring provinces, and major geological features

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