House of Samarin, a damaged rock carving station. Documentation, analysis and diagnosis in Los Llanos de Ifara, Granadilla, Tenerife

Alba Fuentes-Porto, Carlos García-Ávila, Efraín Marrero-Salas


In the archaeology of the Canary Islands (Spain), there are many studies based on the usage of new technologies to contribute to the identification and description of rock art engravings through high-resolution digital models (Martín, 2005; Martín, Velasco, González & Ramírez, 2007; Senén & Cuenca, 2016; Navarro & Cancel, 2019). This paper is supported by these documentation techniques and digital analysis in order to deepen into the characterization of the damaged rock art station Casa del Samarín (House of Samarín), or Tagoro del Rey, in Los Llanos de Ifara, south of the island of Tenerife (Figs. 1). Twenty-one panels conserved in situ were documented (Fig. 6). Geometric-linear, geometric with an oval and rectangular trend and figurative ones can be distinguished. The blocks [1] that compose the engravings station belong to a rocky basalt outcrop, to which other free-standing blocks are attached, forming a circle. The shape that describes this set of blocks is defined as a "cabin" or circular-shaped structure.

This set of engravings, made on a basalt rocky outcrop with a planar factory, show a tendency to suffer from exfoliation and are affected by internal stresses. The intrinsic characteristics of this stone support, together with their exposure to anthropic actions and strong insolation, condition its fragility, with the risk of losing part of the representations that it houses. Given the threat posed by its gradual deterioration, we seek to ensure its digital preservation through precision three-dimensional (3D) records, the engravings inventory, the record of their conservation state and the understanding of the degradation processes that are affecting the outcrop. What has been explained will be addressed quarterly, to observe the evolution of any material changes every three months.

The registration work consisted of taking four photogrammetric surveys in eight months; the surveys were georeferenced by means of a centimetric Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and a total station. Structure from Motion (SfM) technology enabled the researchers to generate high-precision 3D models in an affordable way, not only in terms of cost but also ease of use. Digital copies with Geographic Information System GIS technology were extracted from them, being exportable in shapefile format (Fig. 7).

As regards the documentation of existing pathologies, assuming standardized lexicon and classification criteria (IPCE, 2013), together with a rigorous information systematization, was key for achieving agile handling of the data collected and for facilitating monitoring tasks (Fig. 8). Damage maps were created for collecting the location and scope of the alterations. The complex volumetry of the outcrop and the varied orientation of the panels marked the need to resort to 3D editing so that all their faces could be properly registered (Fig. 10). This project was performed with a 3D design program, Blender®. 

Thanks to an imaging analysis process, internal textures of 3D models also provided relevant graphic support for the pictographic content and the conservation state (Figs. 11 & 14). DStretch® (Harman, 2008), a plugin implemented in the scientific image processing software ImageJTM, was used for this purpose. To conclude, researchers relied on CloudCompare (Girardeau-Montaut, 2015), an advanced 3D data processing software, to tackle a morphometric analysis that allowed us to detect the appearance of formal changes along with the recorded sequences (Figs. 12 & 15). In this process, the distances between two records, taken after six months, were computed with the Cloud to Mesh (C2M) tool, based on the Chamfer distance algorithm (Ruiz et al., 2016: 120).

Registration file cards and damage maps clearly highlighted the main conditions: material losses (shown in orange) and breaks (in green) have affected the outcrop in a generalized way. Furthermore, sedimentary deposits (blue) are concentrated in interstices; while lichen colonies (idem) do so in the least sun-exposed areas. The use of DStretch® highlighted modern excoriations of anthropogenic origin and contributed to distinguishing recent material losses from the older ones, already affected by an incipient patina. Finally, thanks to morphological analysis, a new detachment (Fig. 15b) and a generalized displacement of exempt elements (Figs. 12 & 15) were detected. These displacements indicate outstanding manipulation, which could lead to decontextualizations or new fragmentations.

Regarding the archaeological interpretation, macroscopic observation of exempt blocks located in the vicinity of the station and the zenith representation of the immediate environment from photogrammetry, have shown that they are forming a set of attached structures (Fig. 13). The site redefinition and the diagnosis of its very weakened defensive system show the need to intensify the archaeological study of this area, so emblematic for the archaeology of the south of Tenerife, in addition to establishing preventive conservation measures that can contribute to its stabilization.


[1] Geological unit of size greater than 300 mm, term standardized by the USCS (Unified Soil Classification System).


rock art station; circular-shaped structure; guanches; photogrammetry; 3D reconstruction; monitoring

Full Text:



Álamo Torres, F., & Clavijo Redondo, M. A. (1996). Memoria de excavaciones arqueológicas en el Conjunto Los Morritos, Los Cristianos-Arona (Tenerife) (pp. 181). Tenerife: Dirección General de Patrimonio Histórico, Viseconsejería de Cultura y Deportes del Gobierno de Canarias.

Alberto Barroso, V., Hernández Gómez, C. M., Barro Rois, A., Borges Domínguez, E., Prieto Rodríguez, D., Dorta Barreiro, N., Gracía Ávila, J. C. (2007). Arqueología en el sur de Tenerife. El mito de los paraderos pastoriles. Revista Tabona, 15, 91-114.

Baucells, S. (2014). El Pleito de los Naturales y la asimilación guanche: de la identidad étnica a la identidad de clase. Revista de Historia Canaria, 196, 139-159.

Bea, M., & Angás, J. (2016). Geometric documentation and virtual restoration of the rock art removed in Aragón (Spain). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 11, 159-168.

Bethencourt Alfonso, J. (1994). Etnografía guanchinesca. Tradiciones aborígenes guanches. Colección Canarias Facsimil, 2. Obras de Juan Bethencourt Alfonso (1847-1913), Volumen I (Agricultura, Ganadería, Peletería). La Laguna, España: Ed. Globo.

Caldwell, D., & Botzojorns, U. (2014). An historic sign, possible Mesolithic menhir, DStretch, and problems in dating rock art to the Sauveterrian in the Massif de Fontainebleau. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42(1), 140-151.

Cancel, S., & Álamo, M. C. (2019). Las aportaciones innovadoras del arqueólogo Fernando Álamo Torres. BIC, Revista de Patrimonio de Tenerife, 02), 46-50.

Chávez, E., Pérez, F., Pérez, E., Soler, J., Goñi, A., & Tejera, A. (2007). Propuesta de categorización arqueológica de los yacimientos aborígenes de la comarca isorana (Tenerife). La historia en activo. Actas de las I Jornadas “Prebendado Pacheco” de investigación histórica (pp. 11-30). Tenerife, España.

Diaz Fuentes, D. (2016). Diseño de herramientas de evaluación del riesgo para la conservación del Patrimonio Cultural inmueble: Aplicación en dos casos de estudio del norte andino chileno. Ciudad de México, Mexico: ENCRYM-INAH. Retrieved from

Diego Cuscoy, L, (2008). Los Guanches: vida y cultura del primitivo habitante de Tenerife. Edición y estudio introductorio de J. F. Navarro Mederos y M. A. Clavijo Redondo. La Laguna: Instituto de Estudios Canarios.

Diego Cuscoy, L. (1979). El conjunto ceremonial de Guargacho. Tenerife: Publiaciones del Museo Arqueológico de Tenerife.

Dorado, A. (2018). El análisis de imagen como aportación metodológica al estudio de las cerámicas pintadas de la Prehistoria reciente: casos de estudio desde el sudeste de la Península Ibérica. Arqueología Iberoamericana, S2, 9–14.

El-Gohary, M. A., & Al-Shorman, A. A. (2010). The impact of the climatic conditions on the decaying of jordanian basalt at umm qeis: Exfoliation as a major deterioration symptom. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 10(1), 143–158.

Evans, L., & Mourad, A.-L. (2018). DStretch® and Egyptian tomb paintings: A case study from Beni Hassan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 18, 78–84.

Fernández, J., Gutiérrez, G., Ruiz, M. Á., & Criado, M. (2017). 3D digital documentation and image enhancement integration into schematic rock art analysis and preservation: The Castrocontrigo Neolithic rock art (NW Spain). Journal of Cultural Heritage, 26, 160–166.

Franco, B., Gisbert, J., Navarro, P., & Mateos, I. (2002). Deterioro de los materiales pétreos por sales: cinética del proceso, cartografía y métodos de extracción. In Actas Del I Congreso Del GEIIC. Conservación del Patrimonio: evolución y nuevas perspectivas (pp. 287–293). Valencia, España.

Fuentes, A., Soto, O., & Martin, J. (2019). Análisis de imágenes digitales con DStretch como soporte a la restauración virtual de una pintura mural histórica en San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Conservar Património, 34, 35-49.

Fuentes, A., Díaz, M. D., & Díaz, E. M. (2020). 3D Recording and Point Cloud Analysis for Detecting and Tracking Morphological Deterioration in Archaeological Metals. Innovation in Information Systems and Technologies to Support Learning Research (pp. 362–367).

Gagliolo, S., Ausonio, E., Federici, B., Ferrando, I., Passoni, D., & Sguerso, D. (2018). 3D cultural heritage documentation: A comparison between different photogrammetric software and their products. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, 42(2), 347–354.

Galván, B., Hernández, C., Velasco, J., Alberto, V., Borges, E. & Larraz, A. (1999). Orígenes de Buenavista del Norte. De los primeros pobladores a los inicios de la colonización europea. Tenerife: Ayuntamiento de Buenavista del Norte.

Gillespie, A. R., Kahle, A. B., & Walker, R. E. (1986). Color enhancement of highly correlated images. Decorrelation and HSI contrast stretches. Remote Sensing of Environment, 20(3), 209–235.

Girardeau-Montaut, D. (2015). CloudCompare: 3D point cloud and mesh processing software. Retrieved from

Girish, V., & Vijayalakshmi, A. (2004). Affordable Image Analysis using NIH Image/ImageJ. Indian Journal of Cancer, 41(1), 47.

Grifoni, E., Legnaioli, S., Nieri, P., Campanella, B., Lorenzetti, G., Pagnotta, S., & Palleschi, V. (2018). Construction and comparison of 3D multi-source multi-band models for cultural heritage applications. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 34, 261–267.

Harman, J. (2008). Using Decorrelation Stretch to Enhance Rock Art Images. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from

Hernández, C. M., & Alberto, V. (2006). Buscando la comunidad local. Espacios para la vida y la muerte en la prehistoria de Tenerife. El pajar: cuaderno de Etnografía Canaria, 21, 22-31


Hernández, L. & Santamarta, J. C. (2017). Propuesta de clasificación de la piedra natural volcánica. En XIX Simposio de Centros Históricos y Patrimonio Cultural de Canarias (pp.141-150). La Laguna, España.

ICOMOS. (2011). Glosario ilustrado de formas de deterioro de la piedra [Illustrated Glossary on Stone Deterioration Patterns]. Monumentos y Sitios XV, 1(1), 82.

Instituto de Patrimonio Cultural de España (IPCE) (Ed.). (2013). Proyecto Coremans. Criterios de intervención en materiales pétreos [Coremans Project: Criteria for working in stone materials] . Madrid, España: Secretaría General Técnica, Subdirección General de Documentación y Publicaciones.

Iturbe, A., Cachero, R., Cañal, D., & Martos, A. (2018). Virtual digitization of caves with parietal Paleolithic art from Bizkaia. Scientific analysis and dissemination through new visualization techniques. Virtual Archaeology Review, 9(18), 57-65. doi:

Jones, D., Wilson, J., & Tait, J. (1980). Weathering of a Basalt by Pertusaria Corallina. Lichenologist, 12.

Le Quellec, J. L., Duquesnoy, F., & Defrasne, C. (2015). Digital image enhancement with DStretch®: Is complexity always necessary for efficiency? Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, 2(2–3), 55–67.

Lercari, N. (2019). Monitoring earthen archaeological heritage using multi-temporal terrestrial laser scanning and surface change detection. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 39, 152–165.

López-Menchero Bendicho, V., Marchante Ortega, Á., Vincent, M., Cárdenas Martín-Buitrago, Á., & Onrubia Pintado, J. (2017). Combined use of digital nightlight photography and photogrammetry in the process of petroglyphs documentation: the case of Alcázar de San Juan (Ciudad Real, Spain). Virtual Archaeology Review, 8(17), 64-74. doi:

Marante, C., Febles, V., Varela, P., & Mora, C. (1996). Los grabados rupestres de Montaña Ifara (Granadilla de Abona, Tenerife). El Museo Canario, 51, 11–28.

Marrero Salas, E., Arnay de La Rosa, M., García Ávila, C., Criado Hernández, C., González Reimers, E., & Pou Hernández, S. (2019). ¿Qué es Chasogo? Un enclave excepcional en la alta montaña de Tenerife, Islas Canarias. In X Jornadas de jóvenes en investigación arqueológica (pp. 477-488). Burgos, España.

Martín Rodríguez, E. (2005). La aplicación de las nuevas tecnologías al estudio de las manifestaciones rupestres. Tabona, 14, 117-148.

Martín, E., Velasco, J., González, M.C., & Ramírez, M. (2007). Nuevas investigaciones en torno a los grabados rupestres del barranco de Balos (Agüimes, Gran Canaria). Tabona, 16, 193-218.

Mederos, A., Escribano, G., Martín, M., Rodríguez, A., (2006). Prospección arqueológica del litoral del sur de la isla de Tenerife: Granadilla, San Miguel de Abona y Arona. Eres Arqueología-Antropología, 14, 39-56.

Menna, F., Nocerino, E., Remondino, F., Dellepiane, M., Callieri, M., & Scopigno, R. (2016). 3D digitization of an heritage masterpiece-a critical analysis on quality assessment. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, XLI-B5 (pp.675–683).

Navarro, J. F., & Arco Aguilar, C. (1987). Los aborígenes. Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Centro de Cultura Popular Canaria.

Navarro, J. F., & Álamo, F. (1989-1993). Inventario del Patrimonio Arqueológico de las Canarias Occidentales (municipios de Tegueste, S/C de Tenerife, S.Cristóbal de La Laguna, Granadilla de Abona, S.Miguel de Abona, Arona, Adeje, Breña Baja y Breña Alta). 30 tomos. La Laguna, Tenerife: Universidad de La Laguna.

Navarro, J. F., Hernández, C. M., & Álamo, F. (2002). Las manifestaciones rupestres del sur de Tenerife: Una aproximación desde la arqueología espacial. I Simposio Manifestaciones Rupestres Canarias-Norte de África. Faykag, Número Extraordinario Otoño, pp. 231-257.

Navarro, J. F. (2010). Carta Arqueológica de Granadilla de Abona (ArqueoGranadilla). Fase 1 y 2. Fundación Empresa-Universidad de La Laguna.

Navarro, J. F., & Cancel, S. J. (2019). Cronología relativa en grabados rupestres de Arona (Tenerife, Islas Canarias). Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos, 66 (066-007), 1-19.

Palomar-Vazquez, J., Baselga, S., Viñals-Blasco, M. J., García-Sales, C., & Sancho-Espinós, I. (2017). Application of a combination of digital image processing and 3D visualization of graffiti in heritage conservation. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12.

Pandey, S. C., & Cather, S. (2015). Close-range 3d imaging for documenting and monitoring dynamic deterioration processes in wall paintings. ICOM CIDOC 2015: Documenting Diversity – Collections, Catalogues & Context. Nueva Deli, India.

Pérez Camaño, F. (2019). Más allá de la cueva: La importancia de la cabaña en el hábitat guanche. BIC, Revista de Patrimonio de Tenerife, 2, 30-33.

Pye, E., (2001). Caring for the Past: Issues in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums. Londres; Reino Unido: James & James.

Rahaman, H., & Champion, E. (2019). To 3D or Not 3D: Choosing a Photogrammetry Workflow for Cultural Heritage Groups. Heritage, 2(3), 1835–1851.

Rodríguez, E., Pastor, S. C., & Casals, J. R. (2019). Lost colours: Photogrammetry, image analysis using the DStretch plugin, and 3-D modelling of post-firing painted pottery from the south west Iberian Peninsula. Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, 13.

Rogerio, M. Á. (2013). Experiencias en la documentación de pintura rupestre utilizando técnicas de análisis de imagen: avances hacia el establecimiento de protocolos de documentación no invasivos. Cuadernos de Arte Rupestre, 6, 53-67.

Ruiz, J. F., Sebastián, M., Quesada, E., Pereira, J., Maguregui, M., Fernández, S., & Dólera, A. (2016). 4D Arte Rupestre. Murcia, España: Dirección General de Bienes Culturales, Servicio de Patrimonio Histórico de la Región de Murcia.

Rusinkiewicz, S., & Levoy, M. (2001). Efficient variants of the ICP algorithm. Proceedings of International Conference on 3-D Digital Imaging and Modeling, 3DIM, 145–152.

Senén, I.; Cuenca, J. (2016). Acciones de conservación y de restauración en el marco del proyecto de musealización del “Lomo de los Letreros”, Barranco de Balos. Agüimes, Gran Canaria. XXI Coloquio de Historia Canario-Americana (2014), XXI-082, pp. 1-10. Retrieved from

Tejera Gaspar, A. (1992). La investigación arqueológica en las Canarias. Almogaren, 23, p. 77-84.

Velasco, J., Hernández, C. M. & Alberto, V. (1999). Consideraciones en torno a los sistemas productivos de las sociedades prehistóricas canarias: los modelos de Tenerife y Gran Canaria. Vegueta, 4: 33-56.

Vidal, P., Alberto, V., Marrero, E., García, J. C., Pou, S., & Arnay, M. (2019). Vitrified wood charcoal and burnt bones from the Pre-Hispanic site of Chasogo (Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain). Journal of Archaeological Science Report, 28.

Winkler, E. M. (1982). Problems in the deterioration of stone. Conservation of Historic Stone Buildings and Monuments (pp. 108-119). Washington D.C., USA: National Academy Press.

Abstract Views

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License

This journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Universitat Politècnica de València

Official journal of Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology

e-ISSN: 1989-9947