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By figuring out the age of the crusts, they’d know They found the oldest dates for three paintings — the outline of a hand, red-painted stalactites, and a ladder-like geometric shape — in three different caves that had been occupied by archaic human species.

The most recent painting is 64,800 years old, according to this technique, and the oldest is more than 66,000 years old.

One theory goes that Neanderthals developed their rudimentary culture only after early modern humans arrived in Europe some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.

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The most common dating method can only be used on organic material, like bones, so it usually doesn’t work for cave paintings.Another technique uses the rate of uranium’s radioactive decay as a clock.But it required lots of material to come up with a date, and cave paintings are too rare to risk damaging.This is, in a way, breathtaking on its own.” Other experts agree with the dates and that the timing means the art must have been created by Neanderthals.There’s no fossil evidence of modern humans in Spain that long ago, says John Hawks a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who wasn’t involved in the research. “The results are just, ‘Hey, Neanderthals were making these things, and you didn’t know it.’” We don’t know why the Neanderthals painted these images or what they mean, but there’s one thing they show clearly: Neanderthals and their modern human relatives weren’t as different as we thought. Early modern humans, for example, made cave paintings.But even though Neanderthals used pigments and decorated themselves with eagle claws and shells, there was no clear proof that they painted caves.After visiting the Altamira cave paintings in northern Spain, Pablo Picasso famously exclaimed “after Altamira, all is decadence”. The art in this cave and in many others that dot parts of France, Spain and other regions in the world are among the greatest pieces of art ever created.Like all great art they provide an insight into the way that people thought, even though it was tens of thousands of years ago.Most of the hands are left hands, which suggests that painters held a spraying pipe with their right hand.The paintings are thought to have been created between 13,000 and 9,500 years ago.


  1. Altamira Cave Paintings 34-15,000 BCE Discovery, Prehistoric Animal Pictures, Bison Drawings

  2. It has been suggested that Neandertals, as well as modern humans, may have painted caves. Hoffmann et al. used uranium-thorium dating of carbonate crusts to show that cave paintings from three different sites in Spain must be older than 64,000 years.

  3. A Journey to the Oldest Cave Paintings in the World The discovery in a remote part of Indonesia has scholars rethinking the origins of art—and of humanity

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