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Today, the cave is only accessible to scientists and a handful of visitors chosen by lottery.
Meantime, the Spanish Ministry of Culture has opened a replica cave at the adjacent National Museum and Research Center of Altamira.
Then, in 2008, British scientists dated the paintings using the Uranium/Thorium (U/Th) method.
To everyone's astonishment, they found that certain artworks were created between 23,000 and 33,000 BCE.
Unlike most other decorated rock shelters of the Upper Paleolithic, Altamira cave was a place of domestic human habitation This was limited to the cave mouth and lobby area, although paintings and petroglyphs were created throughout the length of the cave.
About 12,000 BCE, a landslide sealed the cave's entrance, thus preserving its contents until its accidental discovery in the late 19th century.
In 2012, for example, a red dot and a hand print found at the El Castillo Cave - also in Cantabria - were dated to at least 39,000 BCE and 35,500 BCE respectively (Aurignacian era), making them the oldest art of their type from any cave in Europe.But according to the most recent research, some drawings were made between 23,000 and 34,000 BCE, during the period of Aurignacian art, contemporaneous with the Chauvet Cave paintings and the Pech-Merle cave paintings.