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Anthropologists Discover 38,000-Year-Old Engraving On A Limestone Slab

28 January 2017, 6:43 am EST By Andrew Norman Tech Times
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An international team of anthropologists has uncovered a 38,000-year-old engraved image on a limestone slab, above, in a rock shelter in southwestern France. The image is of an aurochs, or extinct wild cow.  ( Musée national de Préhistoire collections - photo MNP - Ph. Jugie )

A team of international anthropologists got hold of an engraved image that dates back almost 38,000 years.

The remarkable discovery was made in a rock shelter located in the southwest of France. This will help in assessing the nature of human beings dwelling in that period. A rock shelter is a shallow opening, quite similar to a cave, at the base of a bluff or cliff. Sometimes it is also referred to as a crepuscular cave, a rockhouse, or a bluff shelter.

One Of The Oldest Engravings In Eurasia

This engraving is one of the oldest hand-etched pictures found in Western Eurasia. Engraving is a practice of decorating a hard and flat surface by cutting grooves into it.

"The discovery sheds new light on regional patterning of art and ornamentation across Europe at a time when the first modern humans to enter Europe dispersed westward and northward across the continent," says Randall White, an anthropologist from New York University who led the team that conducted the excavation work in Vézère Valley, France.

Reports suggest that the study sheds light on Aurignacian culture prevalent among modern humans who lived nearly 43,000 to 33,000 years ago.

The Excavation And Discovery

The engraving found at the site Abri Blanchard bears a complex image of a wild cow with a surrounding row of dots and was discovered in the early part of the 20th century. The anthropologists started a systematic exploration of the site in 2011 and got hold of the remaining deposits in 2012.

The limestone slab bearing an image of the aurochs, an extinct wild cow, will throw light on the society of that era. Through this art, researchers can gauge the lives and mind of the people who lived in that era.

White adds that after the groups left Africa, several modern humans started to settle in the central and western part of Europe, depicting a huge similarity in graphic expression, which makes the regional characteristics stand out.

White also says that the pattern fits really well with social geographical models where art and personal ornamentation are representative of the identity of social regional groups and also individuals.

Abri Castanet, the sister site of Abri Blanchard, was earlier excavated by White and his team and has been considered one of the oldest sites in Eurasia that contain artifacts bearing human symbolism.

Many ancient personal ornaments, pierced shells, pierced animal teeth, soapstone and ivory beads, paintings on limestone slabs, engravings, and more have been discovered in these sites.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Quaternary International.

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