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Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and other artifacts found in the cave complex has led most scholars to date the Lascaux paintings to c.15,000 BC, making them some of the oldest paintings in the world.
The majority view is that the paintings were completed over a period of a few centuries at most, while others believe the work was carried out over a much longer period.
Now dating experts working in Spain, using a technique relatively new to archaeology, have pushed dates for the earliest cave art back some 4000 years to at least 41,000 years ago, raising the possibility that the artists were Neandertals rather than modern humans.
And a few researchers say that the study argues for the slow development of artistic skill over tens of thousands of years.
As the first British reporter allowed access to the almost completed site, I’m hailing this as a triumph: without any doubt, this is the French cultural event of 2016.
The Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne region of southwest France contain some of the oldest and finest prehistoric art in the world.
The cave paintings, which mainly depict animals, are some 17,000 years old and seem to have a ritual purpose.