The Cueva de El Castillo, or the Cave of the Castle, is an archaeological site within the complex of the Caves of Monte Castillo, and is located in Puente Viesgo, in the province of Cantabria, Spain. It contains the oldest known cave art in Europe. Some researchers argue this might even be the oldest known example of artwork in the world and possibly a product of Homo neanderthalensis. Hand stencils, claviforms and disks made by blowing paint onto the wall in El Castillo cave were found that date back at least 40,800 years, making them older than those of the Chauvet Cave in central France, which are dated to around 39,000 years BP.
As traditional methods such as radiocarbon dating do not work where there is no organic pigment, a team of British, Spanish and Portuguese researchers led by Dr. Alistair Pike of the University of Bristol dated the formation of tiny stalactites on top of the paintings using the Uranium-thorium dating technique, thus obtaining a minimum age for the art. Where larger stalagmites had been painted, maximum ages were also obtained.
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