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World Heritage Convention

Decision 32 COM 8B.39
Examination of nomination of natural, mixed and cultural proprerties to the World Heritage List - Cave of Altamira and Palaeolithic Cave Art (SPAIN)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Approves the extension of the Altamira Cave to include the Palaeolithic cave art of Northern Spain and become Cave of Altamira and Palaeolithic cave art of Northern Spain, Spain, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (i) and (iii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

The ensemble of seventeen decorated caves on the Cantabrian Corniche as an extension to the cave of Altamira, illustrates the appearance and flourishing of the human art over the long historical period of the Upper Palaeolithic (35,000 - 11,000 BP). It is entirely linked to the appearance of Homo sapiens and the emergence of a new human culture involving profound material changes, the invention of new techniques, and the development of artistic expression through painting, engraving and sculpture. By their number and quality, the caves of the Cantabrian Corniche offer a veritable monograph of Upper Palaeolithic cave art, which is exceptionally rich and diversified. The ensemble is moreover remarkably well conserved. It bears an outstanding testimony to human history.

Criterion (i): The Palaeolithic cave art of the Cantabrian Corniche fully and significantly illustrates some of the earliest human art, over a very long period of the history of Homo sapiens. It bears testimony to the creative genius of man during the different periods of the Upper Palaeolithic.

Criterion (iii): The nominated ensemble bears outstanding and unique testimony to an ancient stage, which vanished more than 10,000 years ago, of the origins of human civilisation. This was the period when the hunter-gatherers of the Upper Palaeolithic achieved an accomplished artistic, symbolic and spiritual expression of their human society.

However, in the context of the contemporary discovery and opening of the caves, complex risks have arisen related to the alteration of the physical, geological and biological conditions of conservation. Extremely rigorous management is required to ensure that the risks are effectively dealt with. The State Party has given all the necessary guarantees concerning transdisciplinary scientific management of high quality, combined with rational management of visits and site interpretation.

4. Invites the State Party to consider submitting a new nomination of the newly extended Cave of Altamira and Palaeolithic cave art of Northern Spain for inscription under criterion (iv);

5. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to actively continue the setting up of the Autonomous Coordination Commission for the management of Palaeolithic cave art in Northern Spain, and its Technical Committee.

Decision Code
32 COM 8B.39
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties 1
Decisions Adopted at the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee (Quebec City, 2008)
Context of Decision