A TEAM of researchers has decided that what was thought to be the only example of Neanderthal cave painting in the world may be the work of modern humans after all.

In 2012 ancient cave paintings found in the depths of Nerja’s famous caves were hailed as being possibly the only Neanderthal art work ever discovered.

The abstract pictures are thought to depict seals that the original artists would have hunted, said Jose Luis Sanchidrian at the University of Cordoba, Spain.

Luis Sanchidrian
STUDY: Jose Luis Sanchidrian examining the paintings.

His team analysed charcoal remains found beside six of the paintings with radio carbon dating suggesting they were between 43,500 and 42,300 years old.Further studies used uranium and thorium deposits to date the paintings, which again gave a very early date.

This meant the art was probably the work of Neanderthals, who were known to live in the area at that time.

It would have made the pictures far more ancient that the 30,000-year-old Chauvet cave paintings in south-east France, thought to be the earliest example of Palaeolithic cave art but the work of modern humans.

Caves Nerja Drawings
ANCIENT: The art is thought to represent seals.

Now Sanchidrian himself has thrown doubt on the theory. Together with associate researcher in Prehistory at the university, Maria Angeles Medina Alcaide, they examined the methods used to date the paintings.

They discovered that the uranium and thorium element samples taken did not give an accurate figure as they were probably washed in from elsewhere in the cave system.

This means the paintings are probably much younger and the work of humans.

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