All indicates that the search for the origins is misleading, serving mythopolitical functions of all kinds. In fact, the origin of architecture should be sought in the constructive and tectonic impulse which goes along with all human culture and its will for safety. Thus, everything serves as matter for construction. If a cave is a natural recess of the earth, excavated by the waters throughout millennia, when used for protection or to inhabit it immediately becomes a construction, for essential reasons. As Marx said, "A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee exceeds more than one architect when building a hive. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is that he imagines his construction in his mind before he transforms it into reality". (Marx, Karl - Capital). First of all, we build in the image and through the image. The beautiful images of rock art bear witness to the omnipresence of this fact.
The case of the cave is symptomatic as, apparently not being a construction, it is a primordial image where the tectonic drive and everything it implies are expressed - the will for a world which is closed, perfect and without contingency. If the hut served to exalt medieval architecture, to free the tectonic from religious and mythical figures, modernity is inseparable from the purity of reason and purification through reason, leading Loos to maintain that "ornament is the crime". This movement of purification has one of its philosophical origins in Plato's well-known allegory of the cave, presented in book VII of the Republic. For Plato, the closed cave is an image of the world, formed by the projection of images and sounds on the walls of the cave, a fact unknown to the inhabitants and that only the philosopher can reveal. In this sense, the fact that it is a closed space makes it a miniature model of the world, allowing to explore it through thought and to correct it through action. The fact that it is closed makes it an imaginable and workable model of the world. In the novel by José Saramago, The Cave (2000), this Platonic critique of existence still echoes, making the Platonic cave an allegory for contemporary capitalism, to denounce its expropriation of life and the transformation of people into shadows. In Cave Exits (Höhlenausgänge, 1989), Hans Blumenberg seeks to show the deep affinity between the allegory of the cave and modernity's technological project, detached from life and diminishing the vital experience which occurs in that closed space, the experience of an invention of the self and of the world: "It is by means of his passage through the cave that man becomes the dreaming animal". For Blumenberg, the disaster lies in the exit from the cave, where he could take shelter in safety, while in the outside dangers and mortal threats dominated. The dream, which placed nature at a certain distance, is the start of a thought where light and shadow are inextricable. That is the city model he upholds when he argues that "the city is the recapitulation of the cave by other means", which was already Plato's assumption, but which Blumenberg sees as "a shield against all realities that do not emanate from the city itself and that are not incorporated into it as mere materials". Plato's version, which equals existence to a prison and the real to simple appearance, seems to give meaning to Jacob Burckhardt's suspicion that the allegory was based on the situation of slaves in Athenian silver mines, always chained inside them and to whom the guards threw food as if to animals.
The disagreement around images reveals that in them happens the essential and that it is in them that platonism wants to succeed. With the discovery of palaeolithic images in the nineteenth century, images began to free themselves and to follow their course in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that the so-called primitivism from the beginning of the XX century, above all anti-idealist, has given so much importance to the images in caves, its stone walls serving as a screen and archive for something volatile and that waited thousands of years to restart navigating throughout the world. The way the allegory of the cave determined the West shows well that the danger lies in transforming the cave into image, instead of opening ourselves to the images they contain. Rock images stayed waiting, confined in that closed space, but always dreamt of the world outside the cave.
The difficult access to certain caves where prehistoric art is found, the difficulty in illuminating them, leads us to think they corresponded to a reserved - if not even forbidden - space. This tended to privilege the theses on primitive religion and its relationship with that form of "art", which is an evident anachronism since religion emerges late in history. Lewis-Williams and Jean Clottes's theses on primitive shamanism, although too tied to the idea of a human psyche with an abstract cognitivism - also anachronistic - seem useful, though far from being universally accepted. Shamanism corresponds to a number of techniques to reach a state of trance or ecstasy, resorting to a series of means such as drugs, the vertiginous movement, or the abstinence from food, water, etc. For these authors, palaeolithic paintings would be made by shamans in those altered states of consciousness, but the fact that shamanism operates close to the community is far more essential. The isolation of caves and the difficulties that surround their viewing allow us to think that caves were sacred places, because reserved and closed. The way Greek oracles and Egyptian sorcerers used caves to confer mystery to the voice makes the problem more complex, given its importance for collective hallucination, and that still in the beginning of modernity was manipulated by that huge inventor, Athanasius Kirchner. But sounds pass and images remain. The millenary silence of prehistoric sounds, which will last forever, allows us to catch a glimpse of some of the primitive uses of the cave.
There is an essential difference in the engravings in the open air, such as Foz Côa's. Although it is undeniable that they depart from the same cavity of imagining, from the same will of fixing, just like the images of the cave, it is nonetheless suggestive to think they correspond to another logic, quite distinct from that of the paintings in caves, in some way connected to rituals and sacrifices of whose nature we can only suspect. In their turn, the images in the open air offer themselves to the gaze and to the sky, and to everyone. They correspond to a relationship with the world which is much less hermetic and obscure than that of the cave, without nevertheless being less enigmatic.