In the millennia between these two occupations, the cave was evidently inhabited only by wild animals.Human occupants of the site were well-positioned to take advantage of the rich wildlife that grazed in the valleys of the surrounding mountains as well as the marine life available in nearby coastal areas.
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A fellow countryman maintained that the paintings had been produced by a contemporary artist, on Sautuola's orders.
Later Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola found out the artist could have used marrow fat as oil for the lamp, producing much less soot than any other combustibles.
Alcohol was not available at the time as far as we know.
Still, it remains unexplained how the paintings in Altamira cave remained unaltered being wet.
Numerous other caves in northern Spain contain Paleolithic art, but none is as complex or well-populated as Altamira.
The cave was excavated by Sautuola and archaeologist Juan Vilanova y Piera from the University of Madrid, resulting in a much acclaimed publication in 1880 which interpreted the paintings as Paleolithic in origin.
) located near the historic town Santillana del Mar in Cantabria, Spain, is renowned for its numerous parietal cave paintings featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands, created during the Upper Paleolithic.
The earliest paintings in the cave were executed around 35,600 years ago.
Altamira was the first European cave for which prehistoric origin of the paintings was suggested and promoted by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola.