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Discovery of a new Palaeolithic painted cave in Romania
2010 Jun 15

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Dr Jean Clottes visited Romania a few weeks ago to assess a new discovery in a deep cave. He has no doubt about the authenticity of the drawings (some were even scratched by cave bears). The paintings are attributable to the Gravettian or the Aurignacian - between 23,000 and 35,000 years. It is for the first time in Central Europe that a parietal art this old has been found and confirmed.


A rhinoceros head.
Photo by Andrei Posmosanu. Copyright FRS.

Press release:

Cavers Tudor Rus (Caving Club Speodava Ştei), Mihai Besesek, Valentin Alexandru Radu, Roxana Laura Ţoiciu (Caving Association Arad Speowest), Marius Kenesz (Caving Club Zarand Brad) found Paleolithic paintings in a cave in Romania.


The high gallery.
Photo by Andrei Posmosanu. Copyright FRS.

The cave, called Coliboaia, is situated in the Apuseni Natural Park, Bihor County – Romania. It is crossed by an underground river, which forms several siphons, making the passage through the cave exceptional and quite difficult. The paintings were preserved in a high gallery. Other paintings were probably destroyed by water. The first measures of conservation have been taken by the Romanian Federation of Speleology and the Administration of the Apuseni Natural Park, under the archaeological authority of the Tarii Crisurilor Museum from Oradea and under the administrative authority of the Bihor County Council. Tarii Crisurilor Museum is accredited by the Romanian Ministry of Culture, Cults and National Patrimony to develop research within the framework of a comprehensive research project at a multi-institutional and multinational level.


The siphon.
Photo by Andrei Posmosanu. Copyright FRS.

Black drawings representing animals, including a bison, a horse, a possible feline, one or two heads of bear and two rhinoceroses, were found. There were also several engravings. On the ground cave bear bones are scattered. During their stay in the cave the bears scratched and polished its walls. A French team consisting of two cavers (Marcel Meyssonnier and Valérie Plichon), a paleontologist specialized in cave bear (Michel Philippe), an archaeologist (Françoise Prudhomme) and two specialists in cave art (Jean Clottes and Bernard Gély) reached the paintings on 16 May 2010 and confirmed their authenticity. The team received logistical support from the associations Speodava Stei, Speowest Arad, France-Roumanie Spéléologie and the Apuseni Natural Park, under the coordination of Viorel Lascu.

Jean CLOTTES,
Conservateur général du Patrimoine (Honorary)
International expert (parietal art) for ICOMOS and UNESCO
Scientific Coordinator of the project

Viorel Traian LASCU,
President of the Romanian Federation of Speleology- FRS
Administrative and Logistics Coordinator of the project
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