Cave of Los Aviones

Cave of Los Aviones, located at sea level near Cartagena in southeastern Spain, is a paleontology site dating back to the Middle Paleolithic era. It is famous for having yield in 2010 several perforated and painted seashell beads thought to have been crafted as jewelry by Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis).[1][2]

Cave of Los Aviones
Cueva de Los Aviones
Cave of Los Aviones is located at sea level near Cartagena, Spain in the Mediterranean.
Location of Cave of Los Aviones in Spain
LocationOn the southeastern shore of Spain
Coordinates37°35′7.30″N 0°59′8.66″W
Elevationsea level
Geologycemented marine conglomerate

The cave is a cemented marine conglomerate. The site has yielded ochred and perforated marine shells, red and yellow colorants, and shell containers that feature residues of complex pigment mixtures.[2] The pigments on the sea shells were dated to 115,000 years old, making these "the oldest personal ornamentation known anywhere in the world," predating Homo sapiens.[1][2][3] Art is an archaeological proxy for symbolic behavior.[2]


  1. World's Oldest Cave Art Found—And Neanderthals Made It. Michael Greshko, National Geographic. 22 February 2018.
  2. "Symbolic use of marine shells and mineral pigments by Iberian Neandertals 115,000 years ago." Dirk L. Hoffmann, Diego E. Angelucci, Valentín Villaverde, Josefina Zapata, and João Zilhão. Science Advances 22 Feb 2018: Vol. 4, no. 2, eaar5255. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aar5255
  3. Archaeologists Have Discovered the World's Oldest Cave Paintings—And They’re by Neanderthals. Sarah Cascone, Art Net. February 23, 2018.
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