The oldest cave paintings in Europe have been found in recent years in Spain. Is about prehistoric paintings that are around 65,000 years old and that archaeologists have found spread over three points very distant from each other.
The places of the findings are three caves located in Cantabria, in the province of Malaga and in the town of Cáceres itself. Let’s discover these treasures!
Antiquity of these cave paintings
Until now, in Spain the oldest caves with cave paintings that had been discovered were located in the Basque Country. Specifically in the province of Guipúzcoa, where it is the Altxerri cave, whose antiquity dates back to about 39,000 years ago. However, there is a big difference between this Basque cave and the other three older ones that we want to talk about.
Possibly the main difference is that the caves of La Pasiega in Cantabria, Ardales in Malaga, and Maltravieso in Cáceres were painted by Neanderthals. Yes, a kind of Homo already extinctabout which scientists have differing opinions regarding its links to the Homo sapiens from which modern humanity descends.
A unique dating method
Another important difference is found in the materials used to paint these three caves. They are pigments created with inorganic materials, which would have been impossible to date thanks to the traditional Carbon-14 method.
So, In order to calculate the antiquity of these cave paintings, it has had to resort to uranium-thorium dating.. This is a system that would allow finding elements to date something like more than half a million years old.
Now that we know who made them and how science has been able to date them, we are going to take a tour of these three caves with ancient cave paintings.
La Pasiega Cave
The territory of Cantabria is known for various tourist and cultural attractions, beginning with its extraordinary wealth of cave paintings. To her recently added the discovery of the La Pasiega cave, by whose name we can already deduce that it is located in the Pas river valley.
It is clear that this cave does not offer a set of the beauty of the famous paintings of Altamira (image above), but it is much older: neither more nor less than about 65,000 years. These painted linear signs are found on the wall of this gallery, which goes more than 100 meters into the bowels of the earth.
Cave of Ardales
Of this group of three caves with cave paintings, the largest cavity of all is the one in the Cueva de Ardales, in lands of the province of Malaga. Is about a cave that extends for more than a kilometer and that it was occupied for centuries and millennia by many groups of prehistoric men.
For that reason, there are paintings that historians place in the Paleolithic and different animals can be identified. However, there are some abstract symbols with elongated shapes and also based on curved and elliptical lines. These forms are the oldest of the set.
Usually, cave paintings are found in natural places, and even with difficult access. However, that does not happen in the Cueva Maltravieso, which is located in the same urban area of Cáceresa city that was already declared a World Heritage Site, and now has another element to increase its wealth.
The dating of a negative hand in this cave has been calculated to be 66,700 years old.. A treasure that was also made by someone from an extinct species like the Neanderthals.
In short, a vestige of incalculable value, and which alone reflects the evolution of the human being. A marvel! Or rather, they are three wonders scattered around different parts of the Iberian Peninsula!