Altamira Cave Paintings. A Summary Located in northern Spain, not far from the village of Antillana del Mar in Cantabria, the Upper Paleolithic cave complex at Altamira is famous for its magnificent multi-coloured cave painting , as well as its rock engravings and drawings. It is one of seventeen such caves unearthed along the mountains of North Spain near the Atlantic coast, on the main migratory route from the Middle East, which followed the North African coast, crossed the sea at Gibraltar and led through Spain into France. First discovered in 1868, though not fully appreciated until the 1900s, Altamira was the first of the great caches of prehistoric art to be discovered, and despite other exciting finds in Cantabria and southern France, Altamira's paintings of bisons and other wild mammals are still the most vividly coloured and visually powerful examples of Paleolithic art and culture to be found on the continent of Europe.
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The cave, discovered by a hunter in 1868, was visited in 1876 by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola , a local nobleman. On one visit in the late summer, he was accompanied by his eight-year-old daughter, Maria, who first noticed the paintings of bison on the ceiling of a side chamber. Convinced of the antiquity of the paintings and the objects, Sanz de Sautuola published descriptions of his finds in 1880. Most prehistorians of the time, however, dismissed the paintings as modern forgeries, and it was not until the end of the 19th century that they were accepted as genuine. The Altamira cave is 971 feet 296 metres long.
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