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About 12,000 BCE, a landslide sealed the cave's entrance, thus preserving its contents until its accidental discovery in the late 19th century.
Like many similar prehistoric caves, Altamira has been dogged by environmental and conservation problems.
It is one of seventeen such caves unearthed along the mountains of North Spain near the Atlantic coast, on the main migratory route from the Middle East, which followed the North African coast, crossed the sea at Gibraltar and led through Spain into France.
In 2012, it celebrated 175 years of entrancing visitors with an awe inspiring range of stunning cave formations, the imposing cave entrance and the large passages are full of artefacts dating back millions of years along with the evidence of the significant impact of the Ice Ages. The tours of the Cave leave from the entrance at regular intervals with an expert guide to help interpret the many features of the Cave.Early investigations suggested that the most of it was created at the same time as the Lascaux cave paintings - that is, during the early period of Magdalenian art (15,000 BCE).But according to the most recent research, some drawings were made between 23,000 and 34,000 BCE, during the period of Aurignacian art, contemporaneous with the Chauvet Cave paintings and the Pech-Merle cave paintings.The Trail also provides access further up Clapdale beyond Ingleborough Cave to Trow Gill Gorge, a large limestone gorge carved out by glacial melt water.Located in northern Spain, not far from the village of Antillana del Mar in Cantabria, the Upper Paleolithic cave complex at Altamira is famous for its magnificent multi-coloured cave painting, as well as its rock engravings and drawings.
Using the carbon 14 dating method, they found that two of the cave paintings dated to between 15,000 and 12,000 BCE, which placed them in the Magdalenian (Style III) period.