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U-Th dating of carbonate crusts reveals Neandertal origin of Iberian cave art.

Hoffmann, D. L. and Standish, C. D. and García-Diez, M. and Pettitt, P. B. and Milton, J. A. and Zilhão, J. and Alcolea-González, J. J. and Cantalejo-Duarte, P. and Collado, H. and de Balbín, R. and Lorblanchet, M. and Ramos-Muñoz, J. and Weniger, G.-Ch. and Pike, A. W. G. (2018) 'U-Th dating of carbonate crusts reveals Neandertal origin of Iberian cave art.', Science., 359 (6378). pp. 912-915.


he extent and nature of symbolic behavior among Neandertals are obscure. Although evidence for Neandertal body ornamentation has been proposed, all cave painting has been attributed to modern humans. Here we present dating results for three sites in Spain that show that cave art emerged in Iberia substantially earlier than previously thought. Uranium-thorium (U-Th) dates on carbonate crusts overlying paintings provide minimum ages for a red linear motif in La Pasiega (Cantabria), a hand stencil in Maltravieso (Extremadura), and red-painted speleothems in Ardales (Andalucía). Collectively, these results show that cave art in Iberia is older than 64.8 thousand years (ka). This cave art is the earliest dated so far and predates, by at least 20 ka, the arrival of modern humans in Europe, which implies Neandertal authorship.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Hoffmann, D. L., Standish, C. D., García-Diez, M., Pettitt, P. B., Milton, J. A., Zilhão, J., Alcolea-González, J. J., Cantalejo-Duarte, P., Collado, H., de Balbín, R., Lorblanchet, M., Ramos-Muñoz, J., Weniger, G.-Ch. & Pike, A. W. G. (2018). U-Th dating of carbonate crusts reveals Neandertal origin of Iberian cave art. Science 359(6378): 912-915 on 23 February 2018.
Date accepted:01 December 2017
Date deposited:02 March 2018
Date of first online publication:23 February 2018
Date first made open access:02 March 2018

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