March 12, 2018 by: Diana Beach
Neanderthal art in Andalucia
The picture above may not look like much but it is something absolutely incredible. They are red ochre markings on a cave wall here in Andalucia (Ardales about an hour from Los Castaños) made by a human 64,000 years ago. The only problem is there were no modern humans in Spain until at least 20,000 years later. So who did it?
When I was studying Anthropology at UC Berkeley twenty years ago (I am a late developer!) the archaeological evidence at the time was that Neanderthals were not capable of symbolic representation. How wrong we were to think our closest ancestors were knuckle-dragging brutes!
This is a very recent discovery (February, 2018) using the latest dating techniques and when I read about it, John and I hurried to make an appointment to visit the cave just an hour from Los Castaños. It is totally wonderful and I urge my guests to experience it. Official information here.
I could rattle on and on about this but I know you won´t read it! Here´s a link to a recent article should you be interested in learning more.
There are two extraordinary cave sites are within easy reach of us. Reservations are needed in each case and we can help with that. Just ask!
Cueva de la Pileta is a vast cave complex used by our early ancestors from about 35,000 years ago. Many artifacts have been found which are on display at the entrance but there is much more to discover and investigations continue still.
The second cave which I have only just visited is extra special because in February, 2018 it was found to be one of just three sites in Spain where new dating techniques prove that wall markings - "cave art" - was done by Neanderthals and not by our ancestors as was previously presumed.
It is the Cueva de Ardales. Read Reuters report here. John and I visited the other day and the visit leaves one amazed, impressed by the incredible beauty of the vast cave system with its sparkling stalagtites and -mites. The drawings left by our very early ancestors over 64,000 years ago is indistinct but what would you expect after so long!!
The guide gives one a fascinating demonstration of how these negative images of hands were made. Notice the bent little finger and index finger, the implication of which is lost, impossible to excavate.
The visit includes a tour of the paleolithic museum in Ardales where you meet your guide. You then drive in convoy to the site about 3 km away. And then, into the abyss of the prehistoric world .....!