Hidden treasures unearthed: A Spanish cave holds ancient art 24,000 years old!

Credit: Partly flooded chamber which contains most of the motifs. Credit: A Ruiz-Redondo/V Barciela/X Mart.

Imagine walking through a cave and suddenly discovering a wall full of ancient paintings! Well, that’s what happened in Spain.

Scientists found a 500-meter-long cave full of ancient art that’s at least 24,000 years old. The cave is called “Cova Dones” or “Cueva Dones,” and it’s located near Valencia in Spain.

People living nearby and those who enjoy hiking have known about this cave for a long time.

But nobody realized that it had old paintings on its walls until a team of researchers found them in June 2021.

These experts came from universities in Spain’s Zaragoza and Alicante, as well as the University of Southampton in the U.K.

Dr. Aitor Ruiz-Redondo, one of the main researchers, said they were thrilled to discover the first painting of an auroch, a kind of extinct wild bull. It was a big deal because most ancient cave art in Spain is in the northern part of the country.

This cave is in eastern Spain, where not many such sites have been found.

Dr. Ruiz-Redondo said that they were really surprised to realize just how important this cave is. It’s as significant as other major cave art sites found in different parts of Spain and southern France.

So far, the research team has documented more than 100 different designs or “motifs.”

This makes Cova Dones the most important site of its kind on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain. In fact, since 2015, no other cave in Europe has been found with so many ancient designs!

What’s really cool is that most of the paintings are of animals like deer, horses, and the extinct auroch.

But here’s what sets this cave apart: most of these paintings were made using clay, not paint.

The artists would cover their fingers and palms with clay and then draw on the walls. The cave’s humidity helped the clay dry slowly, and layers of another mineral called calcite helped preserve these artworks for thousands of years.

This way of using clay for painting is rare in ancient art. But in Cueva Dones, it’s the main style, which is super interesting!

The scientists are excited but say they’ve only just started exploring. There are still many areas of the cave they haven’t looked at yet, so they might find even more artworks in the future.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, these paintings are like a time machine. They give us a peek into the lives and creativity of people who lived thousands of years ago.

Finding such a site helps us learn more about human history and reminds us that art has been a part of our lives for a very, very long time. Isn’t it amazing to think that people so long ago were creating art that we can still enjoy today?

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Source: University of Southampton.