The Altamira cave reopens for the first time in 12 years

The Altamira cave located in Spain's Cantabria region has reopened to the public after 12 years. Famous for housing some of the oldest artworks in the world including prehistoric paintings of bison, horses and other animals dating back 22,000 years, the site was closed to the public in 2002 to preserve it from microbiological damage caused by human breath.

Dubbed the "Sistine Chapel of paleolithic art", many steps are still being taken to preserve this important site and yesterday's reopening saw just five visitors invited on a short tour. The lucky five were chosen from a ballot of people who had visited the nearby Altamira Museum, which houses a replica of the paintings.

A further 192 people visiting the museum between March and August 2014 will be selected on a weekly basis to visit the cave as part of an important experiment. Every visit is being monitored closely with sensors so that the heat and humidity can be measured and the impact of human visitors on the paintings can be thoroughly assessed.


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