Dating Magdalenian Art in North Spain:
The Current Situation
César González Sainz
The graphic activity of Magdalenian human groups forms the most spectacular part of the archaeological record in Cantabrian Spain and, at the same time, represents probably the most expressive aspect of the culture of those Upper Palaeolithic hunters. Since the early 1990s, several projects have tried to fix more precisely the chronology of the cave art through the application of radiocarbon dating by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (Valladas et al. 1992, 2001; Moure Romanillo and González Sainz 2000; Fortea Perez 2002). The present article attempts an integrated discussion of the results of the absolute chronology for Magdalenian cave art and the present situation of the most reliable parallels between this and the mobile art of the same period.
It is well known that the ordering in time of cave art is rather more complex than that of decorated objects, which are dated by their archaeological context (and therefore both this context and the artefacts themselves can be dated by radiocarbon). In Cantabrian Spain, the approaches to dating cave art, especially for the Magdalenian depictions, are the series of superimpositions known on certain walls of a few caves, the analogy with stratified mobile art, and absolute dating, essentially for this period, radiocarbon dating by accelerator. Other procedures, such as the correlation with stratigraphie sequences, offer good results in pre-Magdalenian periods (Fortea 1994), but are limited in the period