Museo Altamira

Chronology

The most recent research work on the archaeological site at Altamira has confirmed the importance of human occupation during the Solutrean and Magdalenian period, as well as identifying a Gravettian layer four thousand years older than that previously discovered.

The new datings show the following:

  1. 1. All layers that make up the Magdalenian period have been dated to 14,00015,600 BP.
  2. 2. Levels 6 and 7 correspond to dates between 17,200 and 19,700 BP.
  3. 3. Level 8 has provided two datings that date it to 22,000 BP, at the end of the Gravettian age.

The new information can be applied to the study of the chronology and phases during which the artistic representations were executed, in line with their extended cultural sequence. In addition to this, a number of polychrome bison and other black figures painted using charcoal, all from the Magdalenian age, have been dated using Carbon 14.

At Altamira, the most recent phase of the art is composed of two black bison that form part of the collection of polychromes but that were subsequently added around 13,500 before the present (the others were executed between 14,880 and 14,698 BP). Around this time, or even contemporaneously, a large number of deer and hinds were engraved between 14,400 and 14,800 BP. Slightly older are some black paintings, including a hind and some signs, executed between 15,050 and 15,400 BP.

It is not possible to use Carbon 14 to date the oldest figures, engraved or painted in red, due to the lack of organic material. Their age can be deduced from stylistic criteria and in relation to the human occupation of the cave, making it now possible to attribute the large red horses and hands that had previously been attributed to the Solutrean period to the Gravettian period, the latter being the oldest period of occupation identified at the site..



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