Near La Mela, just south of El Pilar, such prehistoric people have left evidence of their presence. Ancient rivers had cut steep-sided valleys in the old reefs that make up the geology here, and on these valley sides are many overhangs and shallow caves. In one of these, in the Mora gorge, is an abrigo, a shelter, where the rock wall is covered with fading red ochre drawings. They depict human figures with their arms in various positions, and there are fish-bones (or tallies), zigzags, and patterns of diamonds and triangles. These drawings are considered to date from between the Neolithic Era and the Age of Copper, 6000 to 3000 years ago. The La Mela cave paintings can be visited but are protected from the attention of careless visitors by a tall metal fence.
Jumping ahead many centuries, it was during the time of the Moors that records of the area began. Sorbas, known then as Surba, owes the building of its castle (now all disappeared) and the layout of its narrow streets to this period. The Moors were skilled at crafts and at making the most of local resources. The pottery quarter, the alfarería, in the lower part of Sorbas, dates from this time and there you can still see a huge Moorish kiln, stained red with the clay of generations of potters.
Farming has always been one of the main sources of work in the area surrounding El Pilar. The presence of elegantly made stone threshing circles, called eras in Spanish, bears witness to the times of more rainfall when cereals, particularly wheat and barley, were important crops. The threshing boards, made of planks of wood fixed together and set with hundreds of flints in rows, were ridden round and round, pulled by horses, to separate the grain from the straw, in an annual tradition that was one of the key moments of the year. Dates carved into some of these carefully crafted threshing circles – 1862, 1899, 1909 – show when they were constructed.