Cave & Rock Art

EnolaGaia

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This 2016 item from National Geographic describes how some of the stenciled hands found among Egyptian cave / rock art turned out to be other than human (as originally presumed ...).

'Baby Hands' in Cave Paintings May Actually Belong to Lizards

When the site of  Wadi  Sura II was discovered in Egypt's Western Desert  in 2002, researchers were taken aback at the  thousands of decorations painted on the walls of the rock shelter  as much as  8,000 years earlier.  Not only  are there wild animals, human figures, and odd headless creatures  that have led people to nickname  it  the "Cave of the Beasts," but also hundreds of outlines  of human handprints — more than had ever been seen before at a  Saharan rock art site. 

Even  more unusual  are  outlines of 13  tiny handprints. Until the discovery of Wadi  Sura  II, the  stenciled  hands and feet of  very  small children had been seen  in  Australian rock art, but never in the Sahara.  One notable, touching  scene even features a pair of "baby" hands nestled inside  the outlines of  a larger, adult pair.   

Now it gets even odder: The tiny hands aren't even human.  ...

Wadi  Sura  II is considered  one of the greatest rock art sites of the Sahara, although it lacks the popular fame of nearby  Wadi  Sura  I, the "Cave of the Swimmers," which was discovered by Hungarian count  Láslo Almásy  in 1933 and popularized in "The English Patient."

Anthropologist  Emmanuelle Honoré  of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research  describes how she was "shocked" by the shape of the  unusually small hand outlines  when she  saw them at her first visit to Wadi  Sura  II  in 2006. "They were much smaller than human baby hands, and  the fingers were  too long," she explains.    ...

Honoré  decided to compare measurements taken from the hand  outlines  with those taken from the hands of newborn human infants (37 to 41 weeks gestational age). Since the  site samples were so  physically  small, she also included measurements taken from newborn premature babies (26 to 36 weeks gestational age).  ...

For that, the anthropologist recruited a team that  also  included medical researchers to collect the infant data  from  the neonatal unit  of  a French hospital. "If I went to a hospital and just said, 'I'm studying rock art. Are there babies available?' they'd think I'm crazy and call security on me," she laughs. 

The  results, which have just been published, show that there's an extremely low probability that the "baby" hands in the Cave of the Beasts are actually human.  ...

So if the prints  aren't human, what  are they? The positioning  of the tiny hands  and their fingers varies  from  outline to outline, which led  the research team  to  conclude they were flexible and articulated  and ruled out the possibility of a stencil fashioned from a static material like wood or clay.  ...

Honoré  initially  suspected monkey paws, but when those  proportions were also off, colleagues at the Museum of Natural History in Paris suggested she take a look at reptiles.

So far, the examples that have proportions  closest to the "baby" hands come from the forelegs of  desert monitor lizards  or, possibly, the feet of young crocodiles. (The crocodile study is still in progress.) Monitor lizards still live in the region today and are considered protective creatures by nomadic tribes in the area.  

The revelation that  the small hand images from Wadi  Sura  II  are not even human  is a big surprise for researchers who study Saharan rock art. "Animal stenciling is  mostly  considered an Australian or South American thing," Honoré explains.   ...

FULL STORY: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/160225-sahara-rock-art-stencils-egypt-caves-reptiles/
 

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Earliest known drawing found on rock in South African cave: Researchers believe the pattern on the fragment of rock is 73,000 years old, but are perplexed as to what it might represent.

It lacks the grace of Da Vinci and has none of the warmth of Rubens, but the criss-crossed pattern on the chunk of rock is remarkable all the same. According to researchers who unearthed the piece, it is the earliest known drawing in the world.

Archaeologists found the marked stone fragment as they sifted through spear points and other material excavated at Blombos cave in South Africa. It has taken seven years of tests to conclude that a human made the lines with an ochre crayon 73,000 years ago.

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The simple red marks adorn a flake the size of two thumbnails which appears to have broken off a grindstone cobble used to turn lumps of ochre into paint powder. The lines end so abruptly at the fragment’s edges that researchers believe the cross-hatches were originally part of a larger design drawn on the cobble.

“This is first known drawing in human history,” said Francesco d’Errico, a researcher on the team at the University of Bordeaux. “What does it mean? I don’t know. What I do know is that what can look very abstract to us could mean something to the people in the traditional society who produced it.”

Until now, the oldest known drawings have been the more impressive and extensive works that cover cave walls in El Castillo in Spain and Maros in Sulawesi, Indonesia. But those abstract and figurative images were made more recently, 40,000 years ago at most.

Located on the southern tip of South Africa, about 300km east of Cape Town, Blombos cave has proved a treasure trove of ancient human artefacts from 70,000 to 100,000 years old. Excavations have uncovered painted shell beads, double-sided spear points, and pieces of ochre engraved with the same cross-hatched design as found on the chunk of grindstone. The pattern also features at the nearby younger sites of Diepkloof and Klipdrift, where archaeologists found it engraved on ostrich egg shells.

The patterned stone from Blombos was found by chance in 2011 as researchers washed ash and dirt from spear points and other artefacts uncovered at the site.

https://www.theguardian.com/science...n-drawing-found-on-rock-in-south-african-cave

Wikipedia page on Blombos Cave.

maximus otter
 

ramonmercado

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New findings at a previously explored site.

New Stone Age paintings have been found on a rock face by a sprawling lake system in eastern Finland.

The red-painted stripes and hand markings were partially hidden under lichen on Tikaskaarteenvuori hill near the village of Anttola, which lies on the shore of Lake Luonteri, the Yle public broadcaster reports.

Luonteri is part of the Saimaa lake system, where Stone Age paintings were discovered in the 1990s, but the newly-found images are about five metres (16ft) lower down the rock face. Archaeologist Timo Sepänmaa of the Museum of Central Finland has been studying the new art works, and told Yle that their position shows that "they are a couple of thousand years younger than the earlier finds".

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-46363629
 

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An international team, led by an archaeologist from the University of Southampton and the University of Bordeaux, has revealed the first example of Palaeolithic figurative cave art found in the Balkan Peninsula.

Dr. Aitor Ruiz-Redondo worked with researchers from the universities of Cantabria (Spain), Newfoundland (Canada), Zagreb (Croatia) and the Archaeological Museum of Istria (Croatia) to study the paintings, which could be up to 34,000 years old. The cave art was first discovered in 2010 in Romualdova Pe?ina ('Romuald's cave') at Istria in Croatia, when Darko Komšo, Director of the Archaeological Museum of Istria, noticed the existence of the remains of a red colour in a deep part of the cave.

https://phys.org/news/2019-04-archaeologists-prehistoric-figurative-cave-art.html
 

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Early use of the Cherokee syllabary

There are places where the world of the living brushes up against the world of the spirits.

For the Cherokee of the southeastern United States, those places are caves, where the heat of day gives way to the coolness of damp earth, and the light of the sun is exchanged for the darkness of deep, timeless spaces.

Now, researchers exploring several caves near the Alabama-Georgia border have discovered, for the first time, inscriptions describing sacred rituals and reaching out to ancestors, all in the Cherokee script invented by prominent Native American polymath Sequoyah before his people were forcibly moved to western reservations in the 1830s.

The Cherokee syllabary, which consists of 85 characters—one for each syllable in the Cherokee language—spread rapidly after its invention around 1821. It was used to communicate among tribes, commemorate events, and create the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States.

Now, it appears tribal members were also using this new script to record sacred events in the region’s caves, researchers report today in Antiquity. In 2006, archaeologists found a set of charcoal inscriptions in a chamber at the end of the 1.67-kilometer-deep Manitou Cave near Fort Payne, Alabama, at the head of an underground stream.

But it wasn’t until several years later that it was translated with the help of Cherokee scholars: It commemorated a sacred game of stickball—similar to modern-day lacrosse—played on 30 April 1828. The game involved extensive preparations, including prayer, meditation, and a ritual cleansing known as “going to water.” ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2019-04-10&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2761160
 

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Some lesser known (internationally) cave paintings.

Drawn across the rock in bold strokes of ochre, the paintings have blurred with time but can still steal the breath. Alive with movement, their forms are instantly recognisable: a mammoth rolling forward, a trotting horse, a stocky bison.

These works, deep in a limestone cave in Russia’s southern republic of Bashkortostan, are thought to be mostly between 17,000 and 19,000 years old. Beyond the specialists who come to inspect them, they are barely known to the outside world, in contrast to Palaeolithic paintings in the Altamira and Lascaux caves in Spain and France. Both of those caves are staples of National Geographic and other glossy magazines. Werner Herzog made famous the panthers and bears on the walls of the Chauvet Cave in the Ardeche, with his film Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Tens of thousands of mostly Russian visitors come every year to visit the Kapova cave where the Bashkortostan paintings are situated, in the Shulgan-Tash nature reserve. To reach it requires a lengthy drive down a stone-strewn track and a walk to the 100ft arc of limestone that forms the entrance to the cave.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/...home-to-remarkable-pre-historic-art-67sq0vdh6
 

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This is turning into a rather interesting Thread.
Right on Fortean cue, this has literally just appeared as a newsfeed suggestion I might like.

It's a related article and maybe worth a mention, despite the web site's annoying pop-ups.

3 Stumping Examples of Cave Art That Predate Civilization by at Least 40,000 Years


Source: curiosmos.com

Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors roamed the planet in search of shelter and food. From time to time, they would discover cave systems that they would eventually turn into their home and end up decorating with some of the most fascinating examples of ancient art.

Around the globe, we have countless examples of ancient cave systems that were occupied by mankind with traces of habitation dating back more than 60,000 years in some cases.

Precisely in these ancient caves is where our ancestors made their first steps to document their surroundings.

They painted, carved and sculpted what are considered some of the most ancient examples of art the world has ever seen. These ancient pieces of art are an invaluable part of human history, recognized even by some of the greatest artists of the modern world.

After seeing the cave paintings at Lascaux France, Pablo Picasso said: “We have invented nothing new… after Altamira, all is decadence…”

https://curiosmos.com/3-stumping-ex...predate-civilization-by-at-least-40000-years/
 

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This 14,000-Year-Old Bison Cave Sculpture Is a Striking Example of Ancient Art

The Sculpture is believed to be more than 14,000 years old and is regarded as the largest and finest surviving prehistoric sculptures in the world. Parts of the ancient sculpture were carved with a tool.

A cave located in present-day France is home to one of the most amazing ancient sculptures in history: two bison carved by ancient humans around 14,000 years ago.

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors explored the surface of the planet in search of food and shelter. Beginning their journey in Africa, our ancestors are thought to have made their way across the entire planet, eventually population all corners of the world.

As they did, from time to time, they’d stop and remain settled in certain locations for different periods of time. Whether it was because they found shelter or food, or simply had to because of the climate, they would enter cave systems and inhabit them eventually.

Some of the most interesting caves our ancestors inhabited are located in the European Continent.

In previous articles, we wrote about some of the most impressive works of cave art created by our ancient ancestors tens of thousands of years ago. Through illustrations inside various caves, we have come to understand that our ancestors were capable of depicting various events, some of which have even been interpreted to be astronomical in nature.

https://curiosmos.com/this-14000-year-old-bison-cave-sculpture-is-a-striking-example-of-ancient-art/
 

hunck

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Impressive. And there's a nice simulacra creature they're leaning against.

1580742833937.png
 

ramonmercado

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New findings at Cloghcor.


Rare prehistoric rock art, believed to be at least 4,000 years old, has been discovered on a portal tomb in north Co Sligo.

It is one of a number of similar finds made in the course of a community project, which encourages “citizen archaeologists” to look out for and report artefacts.

Another highlight of the Sligo Community Archeology Project was the discovery during lockdown in March of a rare Bronze Age stone pendant in Drumcliffe. It was found by 14-year-old Darragh McDaniel while he was helping to dig a drain on his family’s land.

The prehistoric rock art was noticed at Cloghcor portal tomb by archeologist Tamlyn McHugh, who is heading up the community project, when she was conducting a video interview with the farmer who owns the land, Leo Leyden. She later returned to the site after dark with her husband, Sligo-based landscape photographer Ciaran McHugh, and found that the rock art was more apparent in torch light.

The pair detected a series of cup marks incised into the surface of the stone, as well as a rosette design. Ms McHugh said that research was under way to determine if the rock art and the portal tomb are contemporaneous or if it was a later addition, “but it is prehistoric and at least 4,000 years old”. The find was reported to the National Monument Service (NMS). ...

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ire...ld-found-by-sligo-community-project-1.4385357
 
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The Bison are very striking but OOP in the empty room.

Surley better effort should be made to recreate the context?
 

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'Sistine Chapel of the ancients' rock art discovered in remote Amazon forest

Tens of thousands of ice age paintings across a cliff face shed light on people and animals from 12,500 years ago

One of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric rock art has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest.
Hailed as “the Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 years ago across cliff faces that stretch across nearly eight miles in Colombia.

Their date is based partly on their depictions of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that hasn’t roamed South America for at least 12,000 years. There are also images of the palaeolama, an extinct camelid, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses.
These animals were all seen and painted by some of the very first humans ever to reach the Amazon. Their pictures give a glimpse into a lost, ancient civilisation. Such is the sheer scale of paintings that they will take generations to study.
The discovery was made last year, but has been kept secret until now as it was filmed for a major Channel 4 series to be screened in December: Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon.
(c) The Guardian. '20
 

EnolaGaia

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A life-sized rock painting of a kangaroo is believed to be Australia's oldest known work of rock art.
Australia's oldest rock painting is an anatomically accurate kangaroo

A nearly-life-size depiction of a kangaroo — realistic genitalia included — is the oldest known rock painting in Australia. Scientists recently pinpointed its age to 17,300 years ago with a technique that had never been used on Australian ancient art before: measuring radioactive carbon in wasp nests from rocks near the artwork.

The kangaroo painting extends across the ceiling of a rock shelter and spans nearly 7 feet (2 meters), which is roughly the height of a modern kangaroo. This and other paintings in northwestern Australia's Kimberley region share certain stylistic features with the earliest cave art from Europe and Asia, the researchers reported. Very old animal paintings such as these are typically life-size (or close to it); they represent anatomy in a similar way, and their outlines are only partly filled-in with sketched lines. Because of these features, the paintings were thought to be among Australia's oldest. ...

"Here, the pigment used is invariably an iron oxide that cannot be dated directly," Finch told Live Science in an email. "If charcoal was used as a rock art pigment in ancient Aboriginal rock art, then we have yet to find any surviving examples in Australia." ...

So the scientists turned to mud wasps nests built under, above and near the art. Over a period of five years, they collected and analyzed 27 nests associated with 16 different rock paintings in Drysdale River National Park, painted in the region's oldest style. "We then use the pattern of all the maximum and minimum dates that apply to paintings of the same style, to estimate the period when they were painted," he explained. "The accuracy of this estimate increases as more and more nests are dated."

They found that most of the paintings were likely made between 13,000 and 17,000 years ago. As for the kangaroo painting, six nearby nests provided both minimum and maximum dates, enabling the scientists to estimate its age. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/kangaroo-art-australia-oldest.html
 

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Seeing and feeling the caves as the original artists would have.

As a geologist who studies Stone Age cave art, Iñaki Intxaurbe is used to making subterranean treks in a headlamp and boots.

But the first time he navigated a cave the way humans thousands of years ago would have — barefoot while holding a torch — he learned two things. “The first sensation is that the ground is very wet and cold,” says Intxaurbe, of the University of the Basque Country in Leioa, Spain. The second: If something chases you, it will be hard to run. “You are not going to see what is in front of you,” he says.

Torches are just one of several light sources Stone Age artists used to navigate caves. Intxaurbe and colleagues are wielding these fiery tools in dark, damp and often cramped caves in an effort to understand how and why humans journeyed beneath the earth and why they created art there (SN: 11/7/18).

In the wide chambers and narrow passageways of Isuntza I Cave in the Basque region of Spain, the researchers tested torches, stone lamps and fireplaces — nooks in cave walls. Juniper branches, animal fat and other materials that Stone Age humans would have had at hand fueled the light sources. The team measured flame intensity and duration, as well as how far away from the source light illuminated the walls. ...

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/stone-age-cave-art-lighting-torch-lamp
 

Frideswide

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A life-sized rock painting of a kangaroo is believed to be Australia's oldest known work of rock art.

Don't kangaroos come in different sizes? @Mungoman ?

In which case it could be a very large one from a long way off, or a very small one from close by.
 

Mungoman

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Don't kangaroos come in different sizes? @Mungoman ?

In which case it could be a very large one from a long way off, or a very small one from close by.
T0 my eyes, that's an odd rendition Frides - It's all out of proportion, plus the artist has rendered the fur - long fur, (which seems appropriate considering the glacial conditions at the time) when they very rarely did paint fur...and by rights, that lump under the tail is this fella's penis...and yet he has no indicated scrotum, which stands more pronounced than his penis normally. And the balance of the body, which is normally more massed over the pelvis and less over the chest is all about face in this example of art. The only other thought that comes to mind to explain this is, that this is an image of a roo that is half dressed for the table - but I doubt that.


I wish that the fotograph was filtered to bring out more of the image so that I could see the head - which I can't.

What I do see is the body of a large quadruped with an extended muzzle which ends just prior to the ears of the aforesaid macropod, with a small ear on the wither of the macropod, a nostril at the end of the muzzle and with a small orbit and ridge proportionately placed.

As an aside...my eye sight isn't the best (Hyperopia), and it has been 5 years since I last had my vision tested professionally...So...Opinions may vary.
 

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Backdated carvings.

A series of camel sculptures carved into rock faces in Saudi Arabia are likely to be the oldest large-scale animal reliefs in the world, a study says.

When the carvings were first discovered in 2018, researchers estimated they were created about 2,000 years ago. This was based on their similarity to reliefs at Jordan's famous ancient city of Petra.

But a fresh study puts the camels at between 7,000-8,000 old.

Precisely ageing rock sculptures is a challenge for researchers. Unlike cave paintings, say, there is often no organic matter to sample. Rock art of this size is also rare in the region.

The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science, assessed erosion patterns, analysed tool marks, and tested animal bones found at the site to determine a new date for the sculptures' creation.

Their age makes them even older than such ancient landmarks as Stonehenge (5,000 years old) or the Pyramids at Giza (4,500 years old). They even predate the domestication of camels, a catalyst for economic development in the region.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-58570259
 

EnolaGaia

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The Bradshaw Foundation provides an extensive collection of Web resources and information on rock art worldwide. These resources are provided under the aegis of the Rock Art Network.

Rock Art Network
Working to Protect a Cultural Treasure

The Rock Art Network, established by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Bradshaw Foundation, comprises individuals and institutions committed to the promotion, protection, and conservation of rock art globally.

https://www.bradshawfoundation.com/rockartnetwork/introduction.php


Bradshaw Foundation's Rock Art Archives

https://www.bradshawfoundation.com/index.php
 

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Oldest Cave Art

Short BBC film from the remote Indonesian cave where the oldest cave art - dated to be at least 45,000 years old - was found.
The style of this art, from Indonesia, is extremely close in technique/style to the painting of a Roo in the Kimberley Region (Feb 23, EnolaGay, Post number 74).
 
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