French researchers return to the Nerja Caves

The group of experts from the Chauvet Cave in France, who last year studied the paintings inside the Nerja Caves and took samples of carbon and calcite, are back in Nerja to carry out further studies in the caverns.

The five researchers are back to further analyse the paintings, now thought to be amongst the oldest in the world, using Thorium-Uranium dating and Accelerator Mass Spectometry (AMS) to date the paintings.

Edwige Pons-Branchu, an expert in Thorium-Uraniium dating, will study the formation of speleotherms, the stalagmites, stalagtites and columns which relate to the paintings. Hélène Valladas, head of the Gif sur Yvette laboratory and pioneer in the development of AMS will also be involved in the dating process.

Other members of the team are the Director of the International Project on the Origins of Art of the French Ministry of Culture, Anita Quiles, the head of the Centre for Research and Studies of Prehistoric Art (CREAP) and researcher at the French National Scientific Research centre (CNRS), Carole Fritz, and pre-historian Guilles Tosello from the University of Toulouse.

Particular attention is being paid to the ‘Camarín de los Pisciformes’ (Chapel of the Fish) in the upper galleries. These particular paintings have caused some controversy in the scientific world as they could be more than 40,000 years old and, therefore, the oldest of humanity.

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