The cave could contain the oldest cave paintings of humanity.
The ex Minister for Employment under José María Aznar, Manuel Pimentel, has recently taken part in a Spanish TV series on the Cuatro channel, ‘Cuarto Millenio’ to talk about the paintings found in the Nerja Caves.
He told the audience that recent carbon dating had shown that the paintings found in the caves are much older than previously thought. The data indicates that they are more than 40,000 years old, and that would make them oldest in Europe. They could even be the oldest cave paintings of humanity.
The curator of the caves, Antonio Garrido, stated that the carbon dating research is a multi-discipline project of conservation and research which started in 2008, and is helping in the study of the extinction of Neanderthal man, and his possible living together in the cave with Homo Sapiens.
Organic matter was taken from close to the paintings in the upper galleries of the caves, known as the Sala de Cataclismo, and sent to the United States for dating, which in both cases came back at more than 40,000 years. The researchers are now trying to establish whether the remains that were dated were in the cave before it was inhabited.
Although these paintings are in an area inaccessible to the public, a reproduction of them can be seen in the History Museum of the Caves situated in the Plaza España in the centre of Nerja.
The Nerja Caves were only discovered in 1959 by local people from the nearby town, and were officially opened to the public in 1961. Today, they are one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain. Each summer concerts are organised in the caves, offering an amazing visual and acustic experience of some of the world’s most famous orchestras, ballet and Spanish guitarists, such as Pace de Lucía back in 2007.
The zone from Nerja to Gibraltar is considered by researchers to be the last area inhabited by Neanderthal man, before his extinction. There are also other caves nearby in Rincon de la Victoria, situated just east of Malaga.