Cuevas de Nerja
|Seals. Wall painring.|
|Cave painting, Nerja.|
The history of the Nerja cave.
The caves were discovered on January 12th 1959, by five local boys from the nearby village of Maro. They had spent the night watching bats coming into and leaving a local pothole known as "La Mina" - the mine.
They decided to explore further, chipping away at some of the rocks and stalagmites that blocked the entrance.
What they discovered was nothing short of spectacular. The first large cavern they came across contained several skeletons and ceramics. They had inadvertently stumbled on one of the most important geological finds of our era.
In the words of Professor Jose Luis Sanchidrian, from the University of Cordoba, describing the recent carbon dating of six seal paintings as "an academic bombshell" and having "no parallel in Palaeolithic art.”
Oldest paintings in the world
The six paintings of seals are the only known artistic images created by Neanderthal man.
Their age has been put between 42,300 and 43,500 years old.
Making them by far the oldest works of art in the world and a good 10,000 years older than the previous record holder, the 32,000-year-old images in the Chauvet Cave in southern France.
Neanderthal man, until very recently, was considered as ape-like and incapable of symbolism and creating artistic works. The cave paintings have dispelled this myth.
|Roger and Dolores Aug 2018.|
The magnificent Nerja Caves – Cuevas de Nerja – are a series of huge caverns stretching for almost five kilometres and feature amongst the top tourist attractions in Spain.
There are two natural entrances to the caves and one man-made, the latter having been made in 1960 to allow easy access for visitors.
The caves are the formation of karstic cavities, their origin dating back millions of years. During the Triassic period, large quantities of calcareous mud settled on the bottom of the ancient Mediterranean sea, later transforming into the calcareous-dolomite marble which at present surround the caves.
During the Upper Miocene period, about 5 million years ago, drifts between the tectonic layers of Africa and Europe resulted in the creation of the Beticas mountains, including the Sierra Tejeda and Almijara. The abundant rain of the last 5 million years (Upper Miocene and Lower Pleistocene) infiltrated the fissures of marbles, stimulating its further dissolution.
Huge cavities, in which the underground waters circulated, were thus formed. Later, due to mountain slides in the region, the subterranean waters were forced into the lower layers and, as a consequence, the caves started to refill with carbonate deposits, stalactites and stalagmites.
In the last 800,000 years (Middle Pleistocene and Holocene) the impressive stalactites and stalagmites have formed following further settling of calcite.
Skeletal remains found in the Nerja Caves indicate that they were inhabited from about 25,000 BC up until the Bronze Age, first being used as a seasonal dwelling place and then later becoming a year round residence for the human population in the area. When not in use by humans, the caves would be occupied by hyenas.
Cave paintings, found on the walls, date back to the Paleolithic and Post-Paleolithic periods and show a culture based upon hunting.
By 4,500 BC, the domestication of animals was part of the local culture and the caves were being used for farming purposes and pottery production.
By 3,800 BC, advanced styles of pottery and textiles were being produced in the area and parts of the caves began to be used as a burial chamber.
Inside the Caves
The caves are divided into Galleries and each Gallery is made up of a number of Halls.
There are three galleries, the Show Gallery, the Upper Gallery and the New Gallery. Access to the Upper and New Galleries is restricted.
1. Show Gallery
Sala de Vestibulo – Entrance Hall
Includes some archaeological exhibits.
Sala de la Mina – Mine Hall
Excavation area, not normally open to the public.
Sala de la Torca – Hall of the Sink
Excavation area, not normally open to the public.
Sala de Belén – Hall of the Nativity
Contains columns of calcite and there is a skeleton on display in a glass case.
Sala del Colmillo – Hall of the Tusk
Sala de la Cascada o Ballet – Hall of the Waterfall or Ballet
It is here that concerts are held with around 100 seats permanently installed.
Sala de los Fantasmas – Hall of the Phantoms
Named after an unusual speleothem (secondary mineral deposit producing various types of stalagmites, stalagtites etc).
Sala del Cataclismo – Hall of the Cataclysm
Home to a huge central column which, at 32 metres high, is the tallest in the world.
Rincón del Órgano – Organ Corner
The fluted columns in this hall can be struck to produce different musical notes and it is thought that some of the columns were intentionally altered by early prehistoric inhabitants to produce different notes.
2. Upper Gallery
Columnas de Hércules – Columns of Hercules
Sala de la Inmensidad – Hall of Immensity
3. New Gallery
Sala de la Lanza – Hall of the Lance
Sala de la Montaña – Hall of the Mountain
Total Surface Area: 35.484 m2
Total Volume: 64,379 m3
|Roger Relaxing Aug 2018.|
|Dolores reading Aug 2018.|
|Preserved skeleton of a young girl in a glass case within the Cave at Nerja.|