Archaeologists discover Cave art dating back 24,000 years in Spain

Team of archaeologists have made a major discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in “Cueva Dones” or “Cova Dones”, a cave site near Valencia in Spain. “When we saw the first painted auroch [extinct wild bull], we immediately acknowledged it was important. Although Spain is the country with the largest number of Palaeolithic cave art sites, most of them are concentrated in northern Spain. Eastern Iberia is an area where few of these sites have been documented so far,” stated Dr Aitor Ruiz-Redondo (a research affiliate at the University of Southampton and senior Lecturer of Prehistory at the University of Zaragoza).  He added that “the actual ‘shock’ of realising its significance came long after the first discovery.” “Once we began the proper systematic survey we realised we were facing a major cave art site, like the ones that can be found elsewhere in Cantabrian Spain, southern France or Andalusia, but that totally lack in this territory”, he stated.

What’s the discovery?

The research team, led by Dr Ruiz-Redondo, Dr Ximo Martorell-Briz (an affiliate researcher at the University of Alicante) and Dr Virginia Barciela-González (Senior Lecturer of Prehistory at the University of Alicante), meticulously documented over hundred motifs in Cova Dones. According to the research abstract carried by Cambridge website, the team states “So far, we have identified more than 110 graphic units, including at least 19 zoomorphic representations, located in three different zones of the cave. Despite being deep inside the cave (the main decorated area is approximately 400m from the entrance), all zones, and the panels and figures they contain, are easily accessible without any climbing required. The depicted animals are seven horses, seven hinds (female red deer), two aurochs, a stag, and two indeterminate animals. The rest of the art consists of conventional signs (rectangles, meanders), several panels of ‘macaroni’ (‘flutings’ made with either fingers or tools dragged across a soft surface), isolated lines, and poorly preserved unidentified paintings.”

This discovery is very important as it has been made in Eastern Iberia. Of the large number of Spanish Paleolithic cave art sites most are located in northern region of the country and very few in Eastern Iberia. Painting technique employed here is surprising and rarity & variability of the technical features of the artworks also amazes. Such was the painting technique employed here that instead of manganese powder or diluted ochre, motifs were created by applying red clay on the walls.

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