Altamira cave dating
The cave was formed through collapses following early Karst phenomena in the calcareous rock of Mount Vispieres.Archaeological excavations in the cave floor found rich deposits of artifacts from the Upper Solutrean (c.16,500 and 14,000 years ago).During the 1960s and 1970s, the paintings were being damaged by the carbon dioxide in the breath of the large number of visitors.Altamira was completely closed to the public in 1977, and reopened to limited access in 1982.Solutrean paintings include images of horses and goats, as well as handprints that were created when artists placed their hands on the cave wall and blew pigment over them to leave a negative image.Numerous other caves in northern Spain contain Paleolithic art, but none is as complex or well-populated as Altamira.Human occupants of the site were well-positioned to take advantage of the rich wildlife that grazed in the valleys of the surrounding mountains as well as the marine life available in nearby coastal areas.
That year, Emile Cartailhac emphatically admitted his mistake in the famous article, "Mea culpa d'un sceptique", published in the journal L'Anthropologie.Both periods belong to the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age.In the millennia between these two occupations, the cave was evidently inhabited only by wild animals.Human occupation was limited to the cave mouth, although paintings were created throughout the length of the cave.
The artists used charcoal and ochre or haematite to create the images, often diluting these pigments to produce variations in intensity and creating an impression of chiaroscuro.
A later study published in 2012 based on data obtained from further uranium-thorium dating research, dated some paintings in several caves in North Spain, including some of the claviform signs in the "Gran sala" of Altamira, and concluded that the first works in Altamira belonged to the Aurignacian culture, 35,600 years old, right at the beginning of human occupation of North Spain by modern humans.