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Neanderthal Art? 1st Paintings Discovered in Spain's Nerja Caves



Paintings discovered in Spain's Nerja caves --discovered by boys hunting bats in 1959 –may prove be the oldest yet found, and the first ever to have been created by Neanderthals. Charcoal remains found beside six of the paintings have been radiocarbon dated to between 43,500 and 42,300 years old. The strange Neanderthal images, resembling the DNA double helix, actually depict the seals that inhabited the region, says José Luis Sanchidrián at the University of Cordoba, Spain. Adding that they have "no parallel in Palaeolithic art." 

The paintings may prove to be substantially older than the 30,000-year-old Chauvet cave paintings in south-east France, thought to be the earliest example of Palaeolithic cave art. Nerja Caves are one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites on the western Mediterranean. Dating back some five million years, they are notable for the large chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and the immense length, over 4,000 meters.

If the paint pigments are confirmed as being of similar age, this raises the real possibility that the paintings were the art of Neanderthals, which would be "academic bombshell", according to Sanchidrián, because all other cave paintings are thought to have been produced by modern humans and provide the first evidence of same capabilities for symbolism, imagination and creativity as modern humans.

Neanderthals are are thought to have remained in the south and west of the Iberian peninsula until approximately 37,000 years ago – 5000 years after they had been replaced or assimilated by modern humans elsewhere in Europe.

Sanchidrián does not rule out the possibility that the paintings were made by early Homo sapiens.Dating of the Nerja seal paintings' pigments will not take place until after 2013, while aditional excavations in the extensive cave system is ongoing.

The Daily Galaxy via 


Again, we are faced with evidence that really, we know virtually nothing about our distance ancestors, about the neanderthals and other humanoid species that might have shared the earth with us. I love Paleontology and archaeology, but our theories about the distant past are constructed of little bits and pieces of artifacts that we interpret from our modern perspective. I suspect that when...if...we ever learn the truth of our prehistory, we will be astonished and awed, like people who see the ocean for the first time. We will realise that even our magnificent imaginings could never had conceived of THIS.


In Australia, a number of sites are this age or older. The article is seriously eurocentric for something that purports to comment on homicide history.

@ Tosca Z
You might like to check out the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Research News). This organization is the leading specialist of anything Neanderthal, in Europe. There, you will find at least 8 very interesting articles on our distant cousins. BTW, it is this institute which decoded the entire Neanderthal genome (

Imagine if it really was a 40,000 year old painting of a double helix! How messed up would that be??

The Neanderthals were the most advanced humans who ever existed in many ways, often more advanced than us. Their brains were thirty percent larger than us,the little we find of their culture shows they were very capable beings. Sure they didn't have infinite generations of history to reference, to build upon to create new technologies and whatnot. If you brought a Neanderthal baby and raised it n the world of today, he or she would be as smart and mentally capable as Einstein, while being stronger and more athletic than any Olympian.

This article is tainted by misinformation.

Neanderthals were not replaced by anatomically modern humans by 43,000 years before present (BP). There is conclusive evidence that they survived until 27,000 BP in Gibraltar and at Byzovaya in northern Russia and until 32,000 at Vindija Cave, Croatia.

Also, a wealth of articles concerning neanderthals, their way of life and their symbolic capacity are available on several publication websites.

hear,hear Linda. they are our best known lets say cousin I recently wrote a paper looking into their humanity it was totally amazing the amount of that is out there..with help from the latest dating methods we have discovered they may have painted there bodies wore where specialist tool makers almost certainly wore tailored clothing(although they use awls not needles), jewellery(shells etc)and had a liking for black feathers probably on their clothing of in their hair etc and the new evidence showing greater cognitive though than once given benefit for.
Robust and strong yes, but with no great athletic physiology not made for running jumping and the like. Build for heat retention in a arctic environment unlike us built for hot arid conditions tall and slim bodies, and 30,000 years is nothing in the evolutionary time-line anyway...they may even have survived quite some time longer its just that the sites have not been discovered yet we may yet find a body in the tundra.....and just look to Norse legend did Neanderthals still remain in the ancient oral history of our ancestors, so just think about it a little archaeological time lines are always changing with the advent of new discoveries and technologies.

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