The rock art community first heard of the existence of a major rock-art site in the Côa river valley on 8 November 1994. In the Anuário da Região Duriense of 1939, José Silvério Andrade refers to several engravings. Andrade’s note never reached the attention of the right scholars. He is the first and real discoverer of the Côa area engravings.
by Mila Simões de Abreu and Alexandre Parafita
November 8 1994: Côa Valley, a date to remember
The rock art community first heard of the existence of a major rock-art site in the Côa river valley, north Portugal, on 8 November 1994. On this date Ludwig Jaffe and one of the authors (MSA) were invited by a local researcher to visit the site of Canada do Inferno, close to where a huge dam was being built.
A large complex of engraved surfaces, practically unknown scientifically till that moment, literally astonished the visitors.
In 1995, one of the authors of this article (AP) found a highly significant note in an old copy of the Anuário da Região Duriense (Annual Bulletin of the Douro Region) while he was carrying out research in the Municipal Library of Mirandela. The note by a local doctor, José Silvério de Campos Henriques Salgado de Andrade, referred to engraved rocks in the Foz Côa area. Andrade, known as Dr. Silvério, was also the mayor of a little town called Vila Nova de Foz Côa, as well as being a poet, writer and an amateur archaeologist. Some of his old friends say he was “obsessed with the engravings”.
In the Anuário da Região Duriense of 1939, José Silvério Andrade refers to several engravings (a bird, snakes and a bridled horse-head), which he classified as petroglyphs from an ancient period: “Ha meses foi chamada a atenção de quem estas linhas escrive para umas pedras gravadas com desenhos representando flores, plantas e animais ali encontradas. Alguns, feitos com notável perfeição, especialmente um peixe, umas serpentes e uma cabeça de cavalo arreado, assim com uma ave em atitude de levantar voo, revelavam intuição artística da parte do lapicida. É evidente que se trata de petroglifos de época muito remota, para ali arremessados, a revelia, dignos de detalhado estudo“.
Only two pictures, showing the Chas dolmen and some engraved writings, were found in the Andrade family collection.