Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain

Posted by Kennedy Runo · Jul 05 · in Spain · about Culture & History

The caves are a representation of the Palaeolithic art that developed in Europe, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula and Urals from 35,000 to 11,000 BC. The caves possess deep galleries that are isolated from climatic influences – a fact that has helped the art remains well preserved over thousands of years.

The cave of Altamira, and 17 other decorated caves were inscribed into the UNESCO world Heritage Sites in 1985. The inscribed property is referred to as ‘the Cave of Altamira and the Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain’.

The caves are a representation of the Palaeolithic art that developed in Europe, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula and Urals from 35,000 to 11,000 BC. The caves possess deep galleries that are isolated from climatic influences – a fact that has helped the art remains well preserved over thousands of years.

The art in the caves remains one of the earliest human artistic accomplishments. It is testimony to human ingenious, cultural traditions, and the evolution of humanity during the early stages.

At around 35,000BP, pockets of the first Homo sapiens arrived in the northern parts of Spain and cohabited for some time with the Neanderthals. There is excavated evidence of use of materials such as bone projectiles and stone blade tools that could only have been used by early Homo sapiens.

The last Ice Age influence was felt at around 18,000BP. It is during this time that cave art developed on the eastern parts of the Cantabria, producing individual styles at Altamira, La Peña del Candamo, El Castillo, Las Pasiega, El Pendo, La Garma, Chufin and El Pendo.

Rock art reached its apogee during an era known as Magdalenian. The age corresponds with the end of Ice Age from 17,000 to 13,000 BP. During this time, major works of arts were done in the caves, with the best example lying in the Altamira and El Castillo where engraving and painting were combined to bring out the effects portraying realistic details of real life animals.

During the Holocene period (13,000 to 10,000BP), the weather became warmer, and this led to profound changes in the human lifestyles. Unfortunately this also saw the decline of the cave art. The art in Las Monedas is a good example of the late cave art. No evidence exists to show that cave art existed later than 11,000 BP.

Don’t tell me you do not want to see what the early Homo Sapiens did when they were not hunting and gathering. It is one of those connections one seeks with the ancestors…trust me; you will feel the connection…

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