Unearthing Spain’s Timeless Palaeolithic Art: A 24,000-Year Odyssey

In the heart of Spain’s eastern Valencia region, nestled amidst the mystical landscapes, a band of passionate archaeologists has unveiled a treasure trove that transcends time itself. Picture this: an ancient canvas adorned with over 110 prehistoric cave paintings and carvings, a visual story etched into the very bedrock of our history, dating back at least 24,000 years. It is nothing short of a magnificent revelation!

24,000-year-old Palaeolithic cave art unearthed in Spain
Photo courtesy of: Cambridge University Press

A dedicated team of researchers has breathed life into Spain’s Palaeolithic past with their extraordinary discovery. This hallowed site boasts a tapestry of more than a hundred individual designs, a testament to human creativity that spans millennia and is believed to originate from over 24,000 years ago.

Enthroned within the hidden recesses of Cova Dones, or Cueva Dones, in the picturesque Millares municipality, this archaeological treasure trove serves as a mesmerizing time capsule. Dr. Aitor Ruiz-Redondo, a Senior Lecturer of Prehistory at the University of Zaragoza, and a luminary connected with the University of Southampton, has shed light on the significance of this revelation. Spain, a nation steeped in the riches of Palaeolithic cave art, predominantly possesses such wonders in its northern realms. The eastern Iberian domain, where this prodigious discovery was wrought, has largely remained an uncharted territory in this regard, until now.

The researchers’ journey commenced with the sighting of a painted auroch, an extinct wild bull, a visual marvel etched into the cave’s sacred canvas. But it was only through meticulous exploration that they comprehended the magnitude of this Palaeolithic sanctuary. Dr. Ruiz-Redondo passionately stressed that this hallowed site stands shoulder to shoulder with the greatest cave art sanctuaries known in other regions, like Cantabrian Spain, southern France, or Andalusia. Astonishingly, this treasure trove had eluded the annals of history in this region until this moment.

Legend has it that this sanctuary may house the most extensive collection of individual designs or motifs discovered at any Paleolithic site in Europe since the groundbreaking findings of 2015 in the Atxurra cave, nestled in Spain’s northern Basque region.

As for the artwork itself, our intrepid researchers have borne witness to vivid depictions of a myriad of animals, including graceful hinds, majestic horses, formidable aurochs, and elegant deer. What sets this discovery apart is the predominant use of clay, a revelation that defies the norms of Palaeolithic sites. Dr. Ruiz-Redondo enlightened us, revealing that the artists summoned these creatures and symbols by caressing the cave walls with clay-drenched fingers and palms. The cave’s nurturing, humid environment played its part, safeguarding these artworks through the ages, as they dried gradually, with certain portions cloaked in delicate calcite veils.

While this discovery stands as a monumental achievement in its own right, our journey is far from over. The quest for knowledge and understanding continues, as we embark on a captivating exploration within the very bowels of the cave. Here, in this captivating corner of Spain, we are not merely observers of history; we are participants in an unending odyssey that connects our modern souls with the timeless echoes of our ancestors. España, with her rich tapestry of culture and history, reveals yet another chapter in her glorious saga.

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¡Hola! Yo soy Carlos, a proud member of the LGBT community and a resident of Spain. I always look forward to attending Pride events in Alicante and Benidorm and writing about them here on Spain Uncovered.

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