Stone Age artists are getting older

RECENT discoveries in Italy and Germany have pushed back the age of Stone Age art in Europe by several millennia. Cave painting from near Verona and carved animal figures from the Danube valley suggest that our ancestors were creating art across a broad area well before 30,000 years ago.
At the Fumane cave, on the southern edge of the Alps, an occupation with tools of Aurignacian type, made by the first modern humans in Europe, has been radiocarbon dated to between 34,000 and 32,000 years ago. In the Aurignacian deposits painted rock fragments were found which had spalled off the walls of the cave because of the freezing of water in cracks: erosion of the paint showed that the art, in red and yellow ochre lines, had been on the walls for some time before it fell and was buried.
Among the motifs is an “anthropomorph”, a humanoid figure, according to Dr Alberto Broglio. It is full face, with two horns which “may be a mask” on its head; the arms are by its side and the legs are spread. “The right hand is holding something which is hanging downwards, probably a ritual object,” Dr Broglio says. Another figure shows a four-legged animal seen from the side and “resembles the profile of a small statuette from Vogelherd”. Radiocarbon dates from the Vogelherd caves, near Ulm on the upper Danube, also give dates between 36,000 and 30,000 years ago, Dr Nicholas Conard points out in a new book discussing the importance of the Fumane paintings. He agrees that “the red paintings from Fumane are of extreme importance” for a number of reasons, among them the contrast between the rather simple form of the Fumane figures and the more sophisticated detail of the Vogelherd carvings, which include a famous horse carved from mammoth ivory and less than two inches long, found in 1931.
Full article: Timesonline.co.uk

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