Cave of Altamira World Heritage Site

Cave with prehistoric paintings in Spain

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Cave of Altamira
UNESCO World Heritage Site
9 Bisonte Magdaleniense polícromo.jpg
LocationSantillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain
Part ofCave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain
CriteriaCultural: (iii), (i)
Reference310-001
Inscription1985 (9th session)
Extensions2008
Buffer zone16 ha (0.062 sq mi)
Coordinates43°22′57″N 4°7′13″W / 43.38250°N 4.12028°W / 43.38250; -4.12028Coordinates: 43°22′57″N 4°7′13″W / 43.38250°N 4.12028°W / 43.38250; -4.12028
Cave of Altamira is located in Cantabria
Cave of Altamira
Location in Cantabria, Spain
Show map of Cantabria
Cave of Altamira is located in Spain
Cave of Altamira
Cave of Altamira (Spain)
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The Cave of Altamira (/ˌæltəˈmɪərə/; Spanish: Cueva de Altamira [ˈkweβa ðe altaˈmiɾa]) is a cave complex, located near the historic town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria, Spain. It is renowned for prehistoric parietal cave art featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands. The earliest paintings were applied during the Upper Paleolithic, around 36,000 years ago.[1] The site was discovered in 1868 by Modesto Cubillas and subsequently studied by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola.[2]

Aside from the striking quality of its polychromatic art, Altamira's fame stems from the fact that its paintings were the first European cave paintings for which a prehistoric origin was suggested and promoted. Sautuola published his research with the support of Juan de Vilanova y Piera in 1880, to initial public acclaim.

However, the publication of Sanz de Sautuola's research quickly led to a bitter public controversy among experts, some of whom rejected the prehistoric origin of the paintings on the grounds that prehistoric human beings lacked sufficient ability for abstract thought. The controversy continued until 1902, by which time reports of similar findings of prehistoric paintings in the Franco-Cantabrian region had accumulated and the evidence could no longer be rejected.[3]

Altamira is located in the Franco-Cantabrian region and in 1985 was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a key location of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain.[4] The cave can no longer be visited, for conservation reasons, but there are replicas of a section at the site and elsewhere.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Pike2012 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "The discovery of Altamira". Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  3. ^ Busch, Simon (February 28, 2014). "Prehistoric paintings in Spain's Altamira cave revealed to a lucky few". Cable News Network. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain". unesco. Retrieved December 30, 2016.

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