Altamira cave dating

But the antiquity of the cave paintings in Spain means that Pike and his colleagues can’t dismiss the possibility that Neandertals created the ancient works of art, since they were also living in the region when arrived.The researchers dated calcite deposits associated with 50 paintings in 11 different caves.Now dating experts working in Spain, using a technique relatively new to archaeology, have pushed dates for the earliest cave art back some 4000 years to at least 41,000 years ago, raising the possibility that the artists were Neandertals rather than modern humans.And a few researchers say that the study argues for the slow development of artistic skill over tens of thousands of years.The results provide the date when the calcite formed, which gives a minimum age for the underlying depictions.These results confirm that the parietal art at Altamira was produced during a prolonged period of time, at least 20,000 years (between 35,000 and 15,200 years ago), and that part of the ensemble corresponds to the Aurignacian period.

And small sample size often results in inconsistent and possibly contaminated results.3 The previous record-holder for European cave art was found by Jean-Marie Chauvet in 1994 in France.The 30,000 year carbon-14 date for paintings of bears in that French cave has been highly disputed.4 In a new approach to dating cave art, uranium-series isotope ratios were measured in tiny bits of calcite flowstone stuck to the painted surfaces.Because the paintings underneath had to be made prior to the formation of the flowstone adhering to them, the uranium-series method—if reliable—would establish a minimum age for the paintings.5 Using the uranium-series method in this way to date the flowstone stuck to paintings in the caves in northern Spain, Dr.The rock art in Altamira Cave was the first ensemble of Palaeolithic parietal art to be identified scientifically (Sautuola, 1880).Due to the great thematic, technical and stylistic variety of the art in the cave, which constitutes one of the most complete Palaeolithic art ensembles, Altamira was listed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1985.

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Alistair Pike’s team reports that some artwork is at least 40,800 years old.

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