Who were the first artists

64,000 year old cave painting Neanderthals were the world's first artists

With the help of the so-called uranium-thorium dating, the scientists under the direction of the Leipzig geo-chronologist Dirk Hoffmann were able to prove that the paintings left by early humans in three caves in the north-east, west and south of Spain include groups of animals, dots, lines and handprints , are more than 64,000 years old.

"If we now find cave art that is older than 64,000 years, it can only have been made by the Neanderthals. It is the very first time that we actually demonstrate these skills that the modern Neanderthals were at work," said Hoffmann MDR WISSEN .

Uranium thorium dating is based on the radioactive decay of uranium isotopes in thorium. Using this very precise dating technique, researchers can determine the age of calcium deposits up to a maximum age of around 500,000 years. This means that it goes back considerably further than the radiocarbon method. For the study of cave art in Spain, lime deposits (calcite) on the color pigments applied by humans were examined.

Homo sapiens came 20,000 years later

In fact, previous research has shown that modern humans did not even live in Europe at this early stage. The first representative of the genus Homo sapiens entered the continent much later. Hoffmann's team member Alistair Pike from the University of Southampton is also certain: "With an age of more than 64,000 years, they are at least 20,000 years older than the earliest traces of modern man in Europe. The cave art must have been created by Neanderthals."