A group of speleologists exploring a cave in the Apuseni Nature Park in Transylvania, Romania, have discovered what could be Central Europe’s oldest cave art. Paintings of now-extinct species rhinoceros and cat were found next to images of bison, a horse, a bear’s head, and a female torso.
While dating cave art is difficult, based on the style archaeologists believe the figures are anywhere from 23,000 to 35,000 years old. No cave art this old has ever been found in Central Europe.
Coliboaia cave, where the art was discovered, is one of hundreds of caves in the Bihorului Mountains. Many have yet to be explored and there are likely to be more archaeological surprises in the future.
The question remains of what to do with the cave. There will be a temptation to open it to the public, but with the controversial reopening of Altamira in Spain, and the problems over preserving the paintings of Lascaux in France, the debate over how best to preserve humanity’s oldest art is growing louder than ever.
Lascaux image courtesy Sevela.p via Wikimedia Commons.