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11 October 2009
Cave paintings more than 20,000 years old found in Spain

A group of archaeologists working in the Astigarraga cave in Deba (Basque Country, Spain) have uncovered the oldest cave paintings discovered in the region to date. Dating back between 20,000 and 22,000 years, the markings represent a group of 16 'paired fragments' in red. Doctor of History and expert in cave paintings, Marcos García Díez, speaking during a conference with press, stressed that this was one of the most important discoveries made in the Basque Country since the discovery of the Altxerri cave in Aia and Ekain in Deba, and highlighted the archeological 'potential' of the site.
     The Astigarraga cave, which was first discovered in 1967, contains other paintings such as one of a mass of black paint covered with concretions of lime, possibly intended to represent an equine animal; or another, of several engraved lines going in various directions which seemingly stand for an anthropomorph. García Díez insisted that, although the images, discovered in August, do not have 'much visual impact', their importance lies in the fact that the 'paired fragments' - 'very rare in cave art' - are binding proof that they were painted in the Upper Paleolithic age and, more specifically, during the Solutrean era, of which they are typical. In his judgement, these 'paired fragments' can be explained by means of Ethnography, or the study of human societies, which would reveal that many primitive groups of the age still used their fingers to paint with during rituals in which they attempted to contact supernatural and transcendent forces. The director of the dig, José Antonio Mujika, who began studying Astigarraga in 2005, also indicated that inside the cave they had found bones placed in crevices and a small throwing dart hidden among stones.

Source: EIRB.com (8 October 2009)

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