In a locally well known cave near an industrial town in Spain, researchers have unexpectedly discovered faint images of horses and hand prints dating back some 25,000 years.
Concerned that activity at a nearby stone quarry had destroyed much of the cave of Askondo, Diego Garate of the Archaeological Museum of Biscay in Bilbao, and Joseba Rios-Garaizar of the Max Planck Institute set out to determine if any archaeological material was still intact. They entered the cave outside the town of Mañaria and searched for bones, stones, and other artifacts. Only on their way out of the cave did they noticed the paintings that they and many others had missed before. “Without a doubt,” says Garate, “[it was] a gift of destiny.”
Speleologists had worked in Askondo in the 1970s, and left their mark in the form of a bright red “3M7″ used to catalogue the cave, but they too missed the art just inches away. “They didn’t see the red horse!” says Garate. “Better for us. We will restore the figure.”