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Cave near Santander, northern Spain, famous for its magnificent prehistoric paintings and engravings. The paintings, dating to 14,000–12,000 BC, were first described in 1880. Altamira cave is 890 ft (270 m) long. The roof of the main chamber is covered with paintings, chiefly of bison, in vivid red, black, and violet. Other figures, in a simpler style, include wild boars, horses, and a hind, as well as eight engraved anthropomorphic figures and various handprints and hand outlines. Engraved artifacts and other material remains suggest that the site may have been a centre for seasonal gatherings. See alsoMagdalenian culture; rock art.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Altamira, visit Britannica.com.