Neanderthal art in Andalucia
Neanderthal art in Andalucia

The picture above of Neanderthal art in Andalucia 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! And now two decades later there is Neanderthal art in Andalucia on my doorstep.

This is a 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.

Neanderthal art in Andalucia

There are two extraordinary cave sites within easy reach of Los Castaños. Reservations are needed in each case and we can help with that. Just ask!

The first cave and most frequently visited by my guests is Cueva de la Pileta. It is a vast cave complex used by our early homo sapiens sapiens 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. No evidence yet of earlier, Neanderthal markings but who knows. 

Website with a lot of information here

The second cave 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. There is Neanderthal art in Andalucia!

It is the Cueva de Ardales. Read Scientific American 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 are indistinct but what would you expect after so long!!

The guide gives one a fascinating demonstration of how the negative images of hands were made – always with a 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  …..!

ardales cave

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