ALTAMIRA, Spain — The cave of Altamira in northern Spain contains some of the world’s finest examples of Paleolithic art. For years, visitors came to see the bisons, horses and mysterious signs painted and carved into the limestone as far back as 22,000 years ago. But in 2002 the cave was closed to the public when algae-like mold started to appear on some paintings. The damage was attributed to the presence of visitors and the use of artificial light to help them see the works.
Now Altamira is being partially reopened and in the process reviving the debate over whether such a prehistoric site can withstand the presence of modern-day visitors. Read more.
The discovery of stone tools dating back one million years in Spain’s Cuenca province sheds new light on the origins of humankind, researchers say.
The tools were left behind by the first humans who settled in the Iberian Peninsula, archaeologists Santiago David Domínguez and Míchel Muñoz told Spanish news agency Europa Press.
Most of the pieces discovered were hewn pieces of extremely hard quartzite known as ‘choppers’, which were used to cut wood and meat by prehistoric humans including Homo Ergaster and Homo Antecessor. Read more.
An ancient inscription discovered on a 14th century church in Spain’s Galicia region has been identified as Gaelic; the first written evidence of the northern region’s Irish and Scottish heritage.
For centuries it has gone unnoticed, weathered by Galicia’s incessant drizzle but still visible to those with an eagle-eye.
On one of the granite walls of Santiago church in the small town of Betanzos, a small previously unintelligible inscription five metres above ground kept historians and epigraphists, or people who study ancient inscriptions, baffled for decades.
Researchers working for a private association called the Gaelaico Project now believe they’ve finally deciphered what it reads: “An Ghaltacht” or “Gaelic-speaking area”. Read more.
The popular conception of the Neanderthal as a club-wielding carnivore is, well, rather primitive, according to a new study conducted at MIT. Instead, our prehistoric cousin may have had a more varied diet that, while heavy on meat, also included plant tissues, such as tubers and nuts.
Scientists from MIT and the University of La Laguna in Spain have identified human fecal remains from El Salt, a known site of Neanderthal occupation in southern Spain that dates back 50,000 years. The researchers analyzed each sample for metabolized versions of animal-derived cholesterol, as well as phytosterol, a cholesterol-like compound found in plants. While all samples contained signs of meat consumption, two samples showed traces of plants—the first direct evidence that Neanderthals may have enjoyed an omnivorous diet. Read more.
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain returned to Colombia on Tuesday 691 archaeological pieces including 3,000-year-old ceramics that were seized in 2003 in a drug-trafficking and money-laundering case.
The pieces - including busts, statues and stone jewelry - were housed for 11 years in Madrid’s Museum of America while courts decided who their rightful owner was after they were illegally exported from Colombia.
The South American country made an official petition to repatriate the objects and Spain’s High Court ruled on June 10 that they be turned over to the Colombian government’s archaeological authorities. Read more.
The cargo from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes warship came to Spain in 2012 after a five-year legal battle with Odyssey, the US company that hauled it up two centuries after it sank.
Officials on Thursday inaugurated a new exhibition at the Museum of Subaquatic Archaeology in the southeastern Spanish city of Cartagena.
It features 8,000 coins — just a fraction of the estimated 580,000 found in the wreck — plus other precious artefacts.
"It is an extraordinary collection," said Spain’s junior culture minister Jose Maria Lasalle at the inauguration.
"These cultural assets are the heritage of everyone, not the privilege of a few." Read more.
In a report co-authored by Michael Walker and colleagues of Spain’s Murcia University, scientists suggest that early humans who lived in the Cueva Negra (Black Cave) rock-shelter of southeastern Spain about 800,000 years ago used fire, and that they exhibited behaviors that indicated a cognitively sophisticated late early Pleistocene use of resources and tools in their environment. The detailed report is published in the upcoming Volume 15 of Popular Archaeology Magazine.
The rock-shelter, located in the face of a cliff overlooking the Quipar river and the small village of La Encarnación, became the subject of initial exploration by archaeologists in 1981. But full systematic excavations didn’t begin until 1990, when an archaeological team led by Walker and colleagues with the Murcia University Experimental Sciences Research Group undertook detailed investigation that continued for another 25 field seasons. Read more.
Archaeologists in eastern Spain have discovered 12 prehistoric rock paintings depicting hunting scenes from 7,000 years ago.
Town hall representatives in the Valencian municipality of Vilafranca announced the finding on Tuesday, the first of its kind and importance for many years in the region.
Although archaeologists are still searching the area for more rock paintings, their work has already unveiled detailed depictions of prehistoric hunting; including bulls, goats and archers chasing them down.
The site’s location is being kept a secret until the necessary security precautions are in place. Read more.