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Alistair Pike’s team reports that some artwork is at least 40,800 years old.Investigators found a range of dates spanning about 20,000 years, but those ages represent only the “minimum ages” for the paintings as the flowstone deposits could have formed anytime after the paintings were made.last week two intriguing possibilities: the famous cave paintings in France and Spain may be as much as 15,000 years older than previously established; Neanderthals may have been cave painters as well as were the anatomically modern humans who replaced them.A team led by Alistair Pike of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom sought to confirm previously assigned dates or establish new dates for cave paintings by applying uranium series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits overlaying or underlaying paints applied to cave walls.At that time it seemed far-fetched that the paintings could be as old as they were claimed to be, namely about 15,000 years.

It shows animals that lived during the Ice Age – a horse, a doe and above all a herd of bison – as well as abstract symbols.Pike and his associates dated paintings in the El Castillo cave in northern Spain, near the famous site of Altamira, to 40,500 years ago.The most famous cave paintings, located at Lascaux in France and Altamira were previously dated to around 25,000 years ago using carbon-14 dating technology.The caves investigated by Pike and his team contain no organic material and thus cannot be dated by carbon-14.U-series dating of the calcium carbonate layers in the Spanish caves investigated by Pike is the only viable method at present.Cave art in Spain is changing the way evolutionary anthropologists see Neanderthals and early modern humans.