The website INFOBAE, which we have referenced before, is an Argentine digital journal and reference for all of Latina America, and has just published an article by Daniel Borrego covering Santimamiñe Cave, located in Kortezubi, Biscay, which contains one of the most important collection of cave paintings in the north of the Iberian peninsula.

It is calculated that these paintings are between 12,000 and 14,500 years old, and the composition is made up of:

      • 32 bison,
      • 7 caprids,
      • 6 horses,
      • a bear,
      • a dear,
      • and other incomplete figures.

The Santimamiñe paintings are not the oldest in Biscay, as those can be found at Altxerri Cave, which have been dated to 39,000 years old, making them the oldest in Europe.

And these are just some of the traces we can find of the activities our ancestors carried out in the part of Europe we now call the Basque Country.

  • Humans have inhabited the area that is now San Sebastian for the past 25,000 years, and had contact and commercial relations with other communities located hundreds of miles away.
  • The oldest known existing map in western Europe was discovered in a cave in Navarre.
  • A stone pendant dated to be about 25,000 years old, found in a cave in Irakaitz, in Gipuzkoa.
  • The three “Magdalene rods” or “Ezkutza rods” (named after Isturitz Cave) that were found in a cave in Ezkuzta, Gipuzkoa, dated to be 14,000 years old.
  • The “print” left behind 30,000 years ago by mammoth hunters in Isturitz (Lower Navarre)

A great deal of the history of this part of Europe is based on the existence of the Franco-Cantabrian refuge, which stretches from southwest France to the eastern part of the Cantabrian range.  This area is considered to be the main settling area of the groups of people who arrived from northern Europe during the last ice age, fleeing extremely adverse conditions. That is where some of those who colonized Europe originally came from.

The INFOBAE article focuses on this cave, which offers an extraordinary collection of animal figures painted in coal and/or engraved.

Though this happens quite frequently, we still can’t get used to it.  The fact that this cave is found in the Basque Country is merely a geographic reference, seemingly forgetting the existence of a people who still live here whose roots are connected to that part of pre-history. 

Una imagen del recuperado bosque de oma (fotografía BFA)
An image of the Forest of Oma (BFA photo)

For those who visit Santimamiñe Cave, which requires reservation, there is another work of art, in the open air, created by the residents in that area, called the Oma Forest, created by Basque artist Agustín Ibarrola between 1982 and 1985 and which, after a thorough restoration, can once again be visited.

This article is causing waves among the media in South America.

INFOBAE – 9/10/2023 – Argentina

La joya escondida del País Vasco: una impresionante cueva con pinturas rupestres de hace más de 14.000 años que se puede visitar

España alberga uno de los patrimonios artísticos y culturales más ricos del mundo gracias al valor que atesoran muchos de sus monumentos y museos. De estos últimos, el museo del Prado es un referente mundial debido a la gran cantidad de obras que guarda, algunas de ellas únicas en el mundo. No obstante, hace miles de años, las personas que habitaban estas tierras encontraron en las paredes y entrañas de las montañas sus propios lienzos. En ellos dibujaban episodios de la vida cotidiana y animales que vivían durante esa época, dando lugar a lo que conocemos como pinturas rupestres.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)

Last Updated on Feb 12, 2024 by About Basque Country


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