U-series dating of Palaeolithic art in 11 caves in Spain

Pike, A.W.G., Hoffmann, D.L., Garcia-Diez, M., Pettitt, P.B., Alcolea, J., de Balbin, R., Gonzalez-Sainz, C., de las Heras, C., Lasheras, J.A., Montes, R. and Zilhao, J. (2012) U-series dating of Palaeolithic art in 11 caves in Spain. Science, 336 , (6087), 1409-1413. (doi:10.1126/science.1219957).


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Paleolithic cave art is an exceptional archive of early human symbolic behavior, but because obtaining reliable dates has been difficult, its chronology is still poorly understood after more than a century of study. We present uranium-series disequilibrium dates of calcite deposits overlying or underlying art found in 11 caves, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites of Altamira, El Castillo, and Tito Bustillo, Spain. The results demonstrate that the tradition of decorating caves extends back at least to the Early Aurignacian period, with minimum ages of 40.8 thousand years for a red disk, 37.3 thousand years for a hand stencil, and 35.6 thousand years for a claviform-like symbol. These minimum ages reveal either that cave art was a part of the cultural repertoire of the first anatomically modern humans in Europe or that perhaps Neandertals also engaged in painting caves.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1126/science.1219957
ISSNs: 0036-8075 (print)
1095-9203 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions : Faculty of Humanities > Archaeology
ePrint ID: 343240
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2012 13:41
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:34
Dating the Palaeolithic Cave Art of the Iberian Peninsular by Uranium-Seires
Funded by: NERC (NE/F000510/1)
Led by: Alistair William Pike
1 October 2007 to 30 September 2010
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/343240

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