In August French and Spanish researchers will carry out tests to date the paintings in the Nerja Caves. The scientists will use a technique known as uranium thorium dating, to establish “more accurately” their age, according to the director of the Caves Angel Ruiz.

The French Culture Ministry is funding research using uranium thorium dating in different caves in Europe and the Spanish research team has been studying the Nerja caves since 2008.

The French and Spanish researchers, led by project director, Professor José Luis Sanchidriá from the University of Córdoba, will make twenty uranium thorium datings of the paintings in the Nerja Caves.

This technique is “very reliable” for dating remains up to 80,000 years old. It allows the analysis of inorganic sediments and consists of collecting samples of the calcite film on the paintings and not the painting itself, thus avoiding damage. The Nerja Caves have a total of 596 pictorial representations, of which around 10 percent are figurative.

Additionally in August the Nerja Cave Foundation will carry out around 15 to 20 Radiocarbon (AMS) datings of organic remains currently being studied – the aim is to corroborate the results of 40 previous AMS datings which placed them between 35,000 and 42,000 years old.

The Nerja Caves paintings have attracted worldwide interest, believed to be the oldest known cave paintings.

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