15,000 years old carvings of scores of animals unearthed in Spanish cave

In a discovery that local media have dubbed the ‘Catalan Altamira’, an extraordinary trove of 15,000-year-old carvings, depicting dozens of animals, has been found in a cave in northeast Spain’s Tarragona region.

Around 100 carvings of animals including horses, oxen and deer, as well as mysterious abstract symbols, were found in a cave in the village of L’Espluga de Francolí.

The ancient artworks were revealed on Friday after being discovered in the wake of floods last October. The engravings are extremely delicate, with archaeologists warning that even the slightest touch can damage them.

Some of the figures have been eroded by the passage of time, and researchers are speculating that the cave may have contained even more figures that were washed away by erosion.

At 15,000 years old, the cave art is among the oldest in the Mediterranean. Experts date it back to the Magdalenian period of the Upper Paleolithic portion of the Old Stone Age. This makes it a contemporary of the famous Cave of Altamira, which is renowned for its charcoal paintings of bison and other animals.

Researchers are in the process of copying the cave’s walls with 3D technology to gain a deeper understanding of them, and of the people who created the carvings all those years ago.