El Castillo Hands
The Panel of Hands at El Castillo Cave in Spain. Researchers have now dated one of these hand stencils back to 37,300 years ago.
Ancient Hand Stencils
A red pigment disk in the El Castillo Cave is older than 40,800 years. Some researchers suspect this primitive art may have been done by Neanderthals.
Hands, El Castillo
To make these hand stencils, the artist blew or spit red pigment over his or her hand against the cave wall, leaving a handprint shape.
Red disks dating to about 34,000 to 36,000 years ago at El Castillo Cave in Spain.
Spain's Altamira Cave is famous for its Polychrome Ceiling, seen here. A club-like form at the top right dates back 35,600 years at least, making it almost 20,000 years older than the bison paintings seen at the bottom of the picture.
The age of this club symbol at Altamira Cave reveals that artists made the caverns their palette for thousands of years.
These horses in Tito Bustillo Cave in Spain are painted over older red art that might date back more than 29,000 years.
A floor block from La Pasiega Cave in Spain. About 15,000 years ago, this block was probably used to mix pigment.
Sampling Cave Paintings
Researchers from the University of Bristol take samples from Tito Bustillo Cave, Spain.
A researcher samples a stalactite at Tito Bustillo Cave. The red paint on the stalactite is between 29,000 to 36,000 years old.
Project leader Alistair Pike scraps minuscule amounts of calcite from a cave wall.
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.