Earliest cave art belonged to Neanderthals, not humans: study

The world’s oldest known cave art was crafted by Neanderthals more than 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe, showing that our extinct cousins were capable of symbolic thinking just like us, international researchers said Thursday. The report in the journal Science is based on new technology that reveals the most accurate age yet of ancient cave paintings at three different archeological sites in Spain. “This is an incredibly exciting discovery which suggests Neanderthals were much more sophisticated than is popularly believed,” said co-lead author Chris Standish, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton. “Our results show that the paintings we dated are, by far, the oldest known cave art in the world.” Since they were created some 64,000 years ago — at least 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe from Africa — “they must have been painted by Neanderthals,” he added.