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Engraved aurochs discovered in France

31 Jan 2017
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An article on phys.org provided by New York University - Anthropologists uncover art by (really) old masters 38,000 year-old engravings - reports that an international team of anthropologists has uncovered an engraved rock art image believed to be from the Aurignacian culture in a south-western French rock shelter.

Engraved aurochs in France

The limestone slab engraved with an image of an aurochs, or extinct wild cow, discovered at Abri Blanchard in 2012. Image: Musée national de Préhistoire collections/MNP-Ph/Jugie.

According to the researchers, it marks some of the earliest known graphic imagery found in Western Eurasia and offers insights into the nature of modern humans during this period.

The discovery was part of the excavation at Abri Blanchard in France's Vézère Valley, led by NYU anthropologist Randall White, who states that it 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.

The findings, which appear in the journal Quaternary International, center on the early modern humans' Aurignacian culture, which existed from approximately 43,000 to 33,000 years ago.

The engraving is on a slab bearing a complex image of an aurochs (wild cow) surrounded by rows of dots. It had been previously excavated in the early 20th century. White and his team members began working on the remaining deposits at the site in 2011, with the discovery occurring in 2012.

 
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White emphasizes how important Aurignacian art is in allowing us to learn more about the lives and minds of the creators, and about their audience.

Abri Blanchard and its sister site, Abri Castanet, previously excavated by White's team, have long been recognized as being among the oldest sites in Eurasia bearing artefacts of human symbolism. Hundreds of personal ornaments have been discovered, including pierced animal teeth, pierced shells, ivory and soapstone beads, engravings, and paintings on limestone slabs.

Visit the France Rock Art Archive:
http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/france/index.php

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