Raphael Minder writes for the NY Times.com-The cave of Altamira in northern Spain contains some of the world’s finest examples of Paleolithic art. For years, visitors came to see the bisons, horses and mysterious signs painted and carved into the limestone as far back as 22,000 years ago. But in 2002 the cave was closed to the public when algae-like mold started to appear on some paintings. The damage was attributed to the presence of visitors and the use of artificial light to help them see the works.
Now Altamira is being partially reopened and in the process reviving the debate over whether such a prehistoric site can withstand the presence of modern-day visitors. Since late February, a group of five random visitors a week, clad in protective suits, has been allowed inside the cave, part of a scientific study whose goal is to determine “if there is a form of public visiting that is compatible with the adequate conservation of Altamira,” José Antonio Lasheras, the director of the Altamira museum, said in an interview in his office.
Read more on NY Times.com: Spain’s Altamira Cave Still Controversial