In 1868 a hunter by the name of Modesto Cubillas stumbled across them but they were not properly explored until 1875 by a nobleman from Santander named Marcellino Sanz de Santuola but it was his daughter, Maria de Santuola who discovered the wonderful cave paintings of Altamira in 1879.
However they were of such astounding quality and so well preserved that specialists doubted their authenticity and sadly the discoverer was dead before they were officially acknowledged as genuine. centuary they were finally accepted as authentic after similar remains from the stone age were discovered in the area.
Known as "the prehistoric Sistine Chapel," the Lascaux Caves, a cave complex in southwestern France, contain some of the most remarkable paleolithic cave paintings in the world, from at least 15,000 years ago.
The cave was discovered on 12 September 1940 by four teenagers, Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, as well as Ravidat's dog, Robot. By 1955, the carbon dioxide produced by 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the paintings.
The earliest known European cave paintings date to 32,000 years ago.
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Helene Valladas of the Laboratory for Climate and Environment Studies at France's CEA-CNRS research centre at Gif-sur-Yvette performed the analysis on the paintings concluding that the drawings were between 29,700 and 32,400 years old.
The Chauvet Cave is one of the most famous prehistoric rock art sites in the world.
The paintings are primarily of large animals, typical local and contemporary fauna that correspond with the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic time.The new project dubbed "Lascaux 4", which opens to the public on Thursday, aims to recreate the sensations experienced by the four teenage boys who found the cave on September 12, 1940.The last of the boys still alive is Simon Coencas, now 89, who was a special guest at Saturday's event.Galleries that suggest continuity, context or simply represent a cavern were given names.Those include the Hall of the Bulls, the Passageway, the Shaft, the Nave, the Apse, and the Chamber of Felines. By 1955, carbon dioxide, heat, humidity, and other contaminants produced by 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the paintings."With my pals, we climbed down to explore a hole, we advanced bit by bit and at some point we came up upon the chamber of the bulls," Coencas previously told AFP.