Formed in the twisting calcareous rock passages of Mount Vispieres. Around 13,000 years ago a rockfall sealed the Altamiras entrance. Its contents were preserved until its eventual discovery, which occurred after a nearby tree fell and disturbed the fallen rocks.
It was 1868 was when Modeso Cubillas discovered the Altamira cave. The cave is approximately 1,000 m (3,300 ft) long. A few years after its discovery, feeling so inclined, Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, and the university of Madrid begin studying the cave. In 1880, with support of others, reports of the cave were published, to initial public acclaim. It began a debate began about the abstract thinking for the time, and if humans were able to draw this way 10s of thousands of years ago. It stopped around 1902, (and continued on), when more caves were found in this and the French region(s).
Did you know? Before 18,500; and, after 15,000 years ago there was evidence of human life. During the two millennia in-between, in was believed prehistoric megafauna inhibited the cave.
Cave life 10,000:
The ‘polychrome ceiling’ is the most impressive feature of the cave. Depicting a herd of extinct steppe bison (bison priscus) in different poses; two horses, a large doe, and possibly a wild boar. Human occupation was limited to the cave mouth, although paintings were created throughout the length of the cave. Charcoal, ochre and hematite were used to create the images. Diluting these pigments to produce variations in intensity and creating an impression of chiaroscuro. They also exploited the natural contours of the cave walls to give their subjects a three-dimensional effect.
Did you know? The drawings were very well preserved. And, it could have been the oils and gases used in lanterns. A number of years after Altamiras discovery, in early 1900, it was discovered early ancestors or those from the stone age could had used marrow fat.
Visitors and replicas:
During the 1970s, and 2000s, the paintings were being damaged by visitors carbon dioxide and vapor. Altamira was completely closed in the late 1970s; reopened for a bit, and again was closed in early 2000s.
Interested in seeing Altamiras reproductions?
The National Museum and Research Center of Altamira;
National Archaeological Museum of Spain;
Deutsches Museum Germany (1964); and,