Researchers say 14,000-year-old carvings by 'Paleolithic Picasso' depict a campsite built by early hunter-gatherers

Researchers have put forward evidence that the granite slab discovered on a prehistoric site near Barcelona carries a depiction of a campsite built by early hunter-gatherers as they roamed the Iberian peninsula in search of prey.

If the picture is of semi-circular huts, it is likely to have been the work of a Paleolithic rule-breaker who shook up the artistic orthodoxy of the day in much the same way as that other, much later Spanish iconoclast, Pablo Picasso.

The authors of a research paper on the find said that its creator appeared to have broken the rules of prehistoric art by departing from its stylised fixation on animal or human figures and instead drawing the built landscape. Marcos García Diez and Manuel Vaquero, the archaeologists behind the discovery, said they believed the artist had drawn a camp of seven grass or animal hide huts – with each structure’s covering represented by hatched lines – and in so doing created the earliest known depiction of human dwellings.

Dr García Diez, of the University of the Basque Country, said: “This shows for the first time the ability of prehistoric hunter-gatherers to represent society. It’s the earliest-ever representation of huts forming a campsite, a Paleolithic village.”