I recently saw the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about the Chauvet cave paintings in southern France. These paintings are estimated to be 32,000 years old, the oldest known cave paintings in the world. It was a beautiful documentary.
It reminded me that I have the book The Cave Painters, Probing The Mysteries Of The World’s First Artists by Gregory Curtis. It was published in 2006 and that’s when I read it, after going to BookPeople and hearing Mr Curtis talk about his newly-published book.
Mr Curtis includes the story of the Altamira cave, in Spain. In 1879, Señor Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, an experienced amateur archaeologist, was excavating a cave on his family’s land, looking for prehistoric artifacts similar to those he had seen at the World Exposition in France the year before. His daughter, Maria, was with him on this specific outing. While her father was digging in the cave floor, Maria was left to entertain herself.
It was Maria who looked up and first saw the cave paintings, pointing them out to her father. However, it is her father who is credited with discovering the paintings, not Maria.
For my part, I want to thank Maria for looking up and finding the paintings. I’m glad that her father took her with him on that particular day. I’m also glad that Mr Curtis mentioned Maria in his book, even though she doesn’t get credit for her discovery.