Cave art from Sulawesi was contemporary with Upper Palaeolithic European cave-painting tradition

U-series re-dating suggests that Indonesian cave art is almost 40,000 years old

The arrival of modern humans in Europe is marked by the appearance in the archaeological record of a sophisticated artistic tradition, which includes portable art objects and cave art. Archaeologists have long been puzzled by an apparent lack of antecedents for this artwork, either in Africa or on early modern human migration routes. It is difficult to see how a seemingly mature artistic tradition could arise de novo in Upper Palaeolithic Europe – but if the 40,000 year old cave paintings at sites such as Altamira and El Castillo really were the earliest cave art anywhere in the world, this must have been the case. Continue reading

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Neanderthal rock engraving

Important evidence for symbolic behaviour from Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar

Archaeologists from the Gibraltar Caves project have found a rock engraving at Gorham’s Cave on the eastern side of Gibraltar. The deeply-etched cross-hatched pattern is carved into the dolomite bedrock of the cave, and was wholly-covered by an undisturbed archaeological level containing Mousterian artefacts. Thus its association with Neanderthals is secure.

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