The petroglyphs of Maragateria

In 2008 Juan Carlos Campos, an archaeology lover, found an amazing set of petroglyphs facing Mount Teleno in Maragateria, near Astorga (province of León). The University of León dated the petroglyphs of Maragateria to approximately 2500 BC, in the Chalcolithic period, thus being one of the few genuine prehistoric labyrinth petroglyphs in the world, and the most ancient of its class.

Labyrinth and cups - petroglyphs of Maragateria
Labyrinth and cups – petroglyphs of Maragateria

One of the few things we know about the inhabitants of this region before the arrival of the Romans is that they worshipped Mount Teleno. It is impossible to determine whether the petroglyphs were rock altars or they had no religious purpose, but it is difficult to pretend that their location and orientation were casual. Other theories speculate that these petroglyphs could map the natural resources in the area, so as to guide transhumant shepherds, or rather that they are representations of the celestial sphere.

Labyrinths? and cups (2)
Labyrinths? and cups (2)

The labyrinths and cups in the petroglyphs of Maragateria are reminiscent of those found along the coastline of Galicia and in other european countries (Ireland, Portugal or Italy). offers further information about the first labyrinths.

Visiting the petroglyphs of Maragateria

There are no tours of the petroglyphs as of March 2017, on the contrary access to the site is free. From Astorga you will have to follow the Camino de Santiago to Santa Colomba de Somoza (road LE-142). In this maragato village you will take the LE-6311 towards Lucillo, and soon after crossing this small village you will divert again, following the LE-6425 towards Filiel. A sign in the middle of nowhere points to the petroglyphs; you can park anywhere off the road and follow the signs, the petroglyphs are a short walk away.

Mount Teleno (2,188 m) in the background
Mount Teleno (2,188 m) in the background

The first and last hours of light are ideal to take the best photos of the labyrinths and cup marks.

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