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A Paleolithic sanctuary with rock paintings discovered in eastern Spain

The Upper Paleolithic era, from which modern anatomically identical Homo sapiens emerged, has long been associated with some of the greatest monumental works of art in the world. Traditionally attributed to Cro-Magnons who settled in Europe about 40,000 years ago, recent finds in Southeast Asia challenge this chronology and suggest that early sapiens may have created living images millennia ago.

Most of the sites known to contain monumental Paleolithic paintings are concentrated in the Franco-Cantabria region, covering northern Spain and southern France. Hundreds of caves decorated with ancient works of art have been discovered in this region, including famous sites such as Altamira, Lascaux and Chauvet. Archaeologists often interpret these places as ancient sacred sites.

A new and impressive discovery

In a recently published paper, Aitor Ruiz-Redondo from the University of Southampton, in collaboration with Spanish colleagues, announced the discovery of an unknown cave site containing artefacts from the Paleolithic period. This breakthrough occurred during a 2021 summer expedition during which researchers explored Dones Cave. 500 meters in Valencia. Previously, this place was known to archaeologists only by ruins from the Iron Age.

Drawings found in the cave / Photo: Antiquity

  • a) painted head of the tour;
  • b) a horse head made of clay;
  • c) panel with various motifs painted in clay, including animals and signs (some partially covered by layers of calcite).

Last year, scientists encountered four petroglyphs in the cave, including a primitive bull head. Further research in subsequent years revealed a wide variety of ancient art, indicating the existence of a significant Upper Palaeolithic temple.

What did scientists find

  • In total, archaeologists cataloged more than 110 images, at least 19 of which were zoomorphic images.
  • Among them are seven horses, seven stags, a stag, two primitive bulls and two obscure animal figures.
  • The remaining images consist mainly of various marks called “pasta” made by fingers or tools on a soft surface, individual lines and some poorly preserved artifacts.

It is worth noting that some of the paintings in the cave show a unique technique in which ancient artists used “moon milk”, a white, jelly-like substance found on the walls and floor of the cave, to fill the void inside some of the paintings. . This technique was not previously found in the east of the Iberian Peninsula. Red clay was also used to create these designs, unlike the more traditional use of ocher.

Engravings and drawings in the cave / Photo: Antiquity

  • a) engraved inscription “Mediterranean three-lined donkey”;
  • b) Two horse heads drawn on the wall surface

Although precise dating methods have not yet been applied to the images in the Cave of Dones, initial findings indicate that they date from the pre-Magdalenian period. 20,000 years.

An unexpected discovery

Surprisingly, along with some human fingerprints, the researchers also discovered paw prints of a cave bear, a species that became extinct in the region about 24,000 years ago. This suggests that at least some of the artworks predate this period, shedding new light on the rich history of Paleolithic art in the region.

The discovery of this ancient temple promises to expand our understanding of prehistoric art and the capacity to express the creative impulses of early Homo sapiens. Further research and dating will be undertaken to establish a more precise time frame for these remarkable Palaeolithic artworks from Downs Cave.

Source: 24 Tv


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