Art & Design Magazine

Spanish Caves Have Oldest Cave Art – Did Neanderthals Make It?

By Periscope @periscopepost
Oldest paintings in caves, Spain

Some of the Spanish cave paintings. Photocredit: EpochTimes

The background

The oldest cave art yet found has been discovered in 11 locations in Spain, at Altamira, El Castillo and Tito Bustillo, amongst others. One red dot is thought to be over 40,000 years old. The age of the paintings was discovered by examining calcium carbonate crusts that formed over them, using a uranium-thorium dating technquie which is now refined enough to give accurate results. The dates, said the BBC, coincide with the time when humans first came into Europe, displacing Neanderthals. The theory is that Neanderthals may have made the paintings – which would change our perceptions of the species.

Who made them?

Professor Joao Zilhao, of the University of Barcelona, who led the examination, thinks that Neanderthals may have made the paintings. But it can’t be proven – more sampling needs to be done, and if it can be shown that such paintings were made before modern humans arrived, then that will prove it.

Learning more about Neanderthals

We’ve been rewriting the textbooks about Neanderthals for the last 10 years, said Alok Jha in The Guardian. They were always thought of as “primitive” and “uncivilised,” but they’ve emerged as being “not too dissimilar” from us. They “used tools,” wore jewellery, and interbred with Homo Sapiens – 4 per cent of our genome is Neanderthal. If it’s the case that Neanderthals did paint their caves, then it would suggest that “language and advanced cognition were present in the human lineage further back than suspected.”

 They weren’t made by Neanderthals

Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York said, quoted on Yahoo news, he didn’t quite believe that Neanderthals did the paintings – there’s no evidence linking them with painting, so it would be surprising. More likely that modern humans came from Africa and did them.

Dot painting proves Neanderthal creativity. Not Damien Hirst but cave painting in Spain. Mammoth in formaldehyde next.…

— Mark Fiddes (@fiddesmark) June 15, 2012

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