Cave paintings have been a valuable source for understanding some ancient cultures. Archeologists have been able to figuratively see through the eyes of humans which roamed the earth over 10,000 years ago and longer. The pictures left by these ancient humans also help with animal identification, dwelling types, tools and weaponry used, and many other valuable social identifiers. The world’s oldest cave art dates back over 40,000 years and hail from the Maros and Pangkep regions of Indonesia. In those caves, paintings of pig-deer and human hands plus physical evidence of human occupation are the only remnants of a long-since-dead society.
The most recent discovery of cave paintings was made in May, 2016 in the Armintze caves in the Basque town of Lekeitio. The area is commonly known as the Iberian peninsula, which is compromised of , Spain, and Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar, and a small portion of France. The 165 foot deep cave had been known by the local community for many years, but was never formally explored, that is until recently. About 50 etchings depicting everything from horses, bison, goats, and two lions were documented. One impressive fifty foot long panel, with two complimentary side panels showed at least thirty animals and two unique shapes (semi-circles and lines in a pattern.) The etchings are dated at between 12,000 and 14,500 years old.
The local officials have already pronounced the cave-art as the “essentially the most spectacular and spectacular” ever found on the Iberian peninsula. Some of the details are what elevates this find over others in the past. One such detail is the lions in the pictures. Previous Paleolithic artwork had been found in this part of the world, but lions were not included in the works. Secondly, the pictures in this find were much larger than any previous find and much more detailed. One etching of a horse was nearly five feet in length; an impressive work no matter the time period it was done in. Archaeologists believe the etchings are identical to ones found in the Pyrenees, suggesting a link between the people who created them.
Unfortunately for interested observers, the cave will not be opened to the public. It’s inaccessibility is the main reason and because of the need to preserve the paintings. Local authorities have stated that they will use technology to give the public as good a view of the new finds as possible, some of which are already being circulated. This find was the second one on the Iberian peninsula recently, but the earlier one pales in comparison to the Armintze Cave find.