Ancient people performed rituals in a Spanish cave for 50,000 years

(ORDO NEWS) — The Cueva de Ardales cave in southern Spain has been of interest to archaeologists in the past because of the rock paintings left there by Neanderthals and modern humans.

Now, the results of the excavations have shown how long it attracted the attention of our distant ancestors: the oldest human traces in the cave were left more than 58 thousand years ago.

There is in the south of Spain, in the province of Malaga , one unusual cave, well known to archaeologists thanks to the rock paintings, of which there are more than a thousand on its walls.

And they were left not only by the Cro-Magnons : some drawings in Cueva de Ardales ( Cueva de Ardales ) appeared before this cave began to be used by people of the modern type, which means that they were painted by the former inhabitants of southern Europe – Neanderthals , who were also not alien to the feeling beautiful.

However, Cueva de Ardales is not only famous for its drawings: after seven years of excavations in the cave, scientists were able not only to clarify why the ancient people used it, but also to find out how long they visited it.

It turned out that Cueva de Ardales was not a dwelling: they did not find traces of a permanent human presence in it, like old fireplaces, as well as artifacts related to housekeeping.

The age of the oldest layers in the cave coincides with the age of the oldest rock paintings (abstract figures consisting of dots, strokes with fingertips and handprints) and is more than 58 thousand years old.

The last traces of the presence of Neanderthals date back 43 thousand years ago, that is, ancient people more or less regularly visited the cave for at least 15 thousand years.

Cro-Magnons appeared in Cueva de Ardales much later, about 35 thousand years ago, after which modern people left their traces there until the end of the Neolithic.

It is curious that, even without making direct contact, both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon people used the cave for non-domestic tasks, without equipping it with a permanent home.

Ancient people performed rituals in a Spanish cave for 50 000 years
Personal decorations from drilled shells found in Cueva de Ardales: given that the cave is located 40 kilometers from the sea coast, it was unexpected to find shells of marine mollusks (A, B and D) in it

In all layers of the cave sediments, scientists have found fragments of ocher , a natural pigment that ancient people used for painting, and sometimes as a ritual material.

Also, many decorations were found in the cave – drilled shells and animal teeth, and some teeth, for example, those belonging to a beaver and a horse, could hardly have been there by chance.

Finally, human remains fell into the last category of finds: in the early Neolithic, the dead were buried in Cueva de Ardales.

Probably, Neanderthals and ancient Cro-Magnons used the cave mainly for ritual purposes, leaving drawings and decorations in it.

From later people who lived already in the Neolithic era, only human remains and traces of burning on some stalagmites remained – it is assumed that stationary lamps were attached to them for a long time.

The age of charcoal deposits found on such stalagmites is approximately four and a half thousand years. And these are the last traces of the presence of prehistoric people in Cueva de Ardales.

A sacred place for 50,000 years, this cave was eventually forgotten by mankind, and only now is it beginning to truly reveal its secrets to us.

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