Cueva de Los Letreros and Indalo Man
in Vélez-Blanco Municipality in Almería Province, Andalucia, Spain
By Nick Nutter | 4 Sep 2020
Between 8000 BC and 3500 BC, hunter gatherers and the Neolithic people that succeeded them, left a record of their passing in the form of cave art. Los Letreros cave is notable for being the location of the figure known as Indalo man, taken in modern times as the symbol for Almeria.
Levantine-style Prehistoric Painting
Los Letreros was used as a seasonal habitation throughout the period. The paintings are in a style known as Levantine-style Prehistoric Painting. There are highly schematic drawings of animals, goats and deer and humans, both male and female. The human figures are distinguished by having bowed arms and legs. The paintings have been dated to about 5000 BC, soon after the Neolithic people arrived in the area and are thought by some to illustrate the transition from the Mesolithic hunter gatherer way of life to the more sedentary Neolithic.
There are 727 sites in north eastern Spain with cave art (arte rupestre), the largest concentration in the world and Almeria has 25 of them. Most are closed to the public but Los Letreros can be visited with a guide during the months of June, July and August.
Rock Art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin a UNESCO World Heritage site
The 727 rock shelters and caves in Valencia, Murcia, Catalonia, Almeria and parts of Granada and Jaen, comprise a group known as the Rock Art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
About 2500 BC, in Los Letreros cave near Vélez Blanca, a Neolithic cave dweller painted a stick figure of a man with arms outstretched holding each end of what has since been interpreted as a rainbow in each hand. To a literal person, it could just as easily be a bow or even a skipping rope. In the early 1960s, a group of Bohemian hippies, who had taken over the largely abandoned hill town of Mojácar, named the figure Indalo and endowed him with the power to ward off evil spirits. It was they, probably under the influence of a hallucinatory drug, who saw the bow and said something like, ‘Hey man, there’s a rainbow’. Reproductions of the figure started to appear on houses, in sculptures, on public buildings and guard rails over bridges.
A Lucky Charm
The Indalo figure was adopted by the Bohemians of Mojacar as a lucky charm and it proved rather efficient, the fortunes of the town changed and it became a prosperous municipality. The provincial government of Almeria adopted Indalo as their emblem, perhaps hoping that his spirit would do for Almeria as a whole, what it had done for Mojácar.Go to Underground Andalucia travel guide
Go to: Almería province
Go to: Almería city
Go to: Vélez-Blanco town
Places to go in Vélez-Blanco municipalityCueva de Ambrosio
Villages in Vélez-Blanco municipalityGuide to Velez Blanco
Find Cueva de Los Letreros on the map
We Welcome Your Comments
Submitted by Dick on 4 Aug 2020
When the Neolithic artists were at work on their cave art, what did they use for light ?
Hi Dick, In closed caves like Letreros, they used torches and open fires evidenced by the carbon deposits on the cave ceilings. Much of the cave art is in cave shelters that are basically open to the daylight.
Submitted by Jacque Briwn on 4 Aug 2020
Hi Jacque, always looking for a different angle, any thoughts?
Submitted by Bobby Fernando Coombs on 3 Aug 2020
As an English Bowman ( not archer) I am inclined to believe it is a bow. Often held aloft to signify “ I am armed come in peace or not at all” the clue is in the term “Hunter gatherer”
Hi Bobby, Thanks for the comment. I have not heard that interpretation before.
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About the Author
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.