Skip to comments.Bear DNA is clue to age of Chauvet cave art
Posted on 04/19/2011 8:30:29 PM PDT by Palter
Exploring a gorge in south-east France in 1994 for prehistoric artefacts, Jean-Marie Chauvet hit the jackpot. After squeezing through a narrow passage, he found himself in a hidden cavern, the walls of which were covered with paintings of animals.
But dating the beautiful images - which featured in Werner Herzog's recent documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams - has led to an ugly spat between archaeologists. Could the bones of cave bears settle the debate?
Within a year of Chauvet's discovery, radiocarbon dating suggested the images were between 30,000 and 32,000 years old, making them almost twice the age of the famous Lascaux cave art in south-west France (see map). The result "polarised the archaeological world", says Andrew Lawson, a freelance archaeologist based in Salisbury, UK.
Lawson accepts the radiocarbon findings. "Nowhere else in western Europe do we know of sophisticated art this early," he says. But Paul Pettitt of the University of Sheffield, UK, is adamant that the paintings cannot be that old. The dating study doesn't stand up, he claims, insisting that the paintings' advanced style is enough to mark them as recent. To suggest otherwise, he says, would be like claiming to have found "a Renaissance painting in a Roman villa".
Despite a comprehensive radiocarbon study published in 2001 that seemed to confirm that the paintings were indeed 30,000 years old (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/35097160), Pettitt and his colleagues were unconvinced. Two years later they argued that the cave walls were still chemically active, so the radiocarbon dating could have been thrown out by changes over the millennia to the pigments used to create the paintings (Antiquity, vol 77, p 134).
(Excerpt) Read more at newscientist.com ...
We now know that the Neanderthals were still around and the Cro Magnons were moving in about 35,000 years ago. There was plenty of time to do these paintings then scamper off to what we now call the Western European Refugia South of the Pyrenees.
We see this same sort of lack of imagination at work with AGW. The Global Warming crowd imagine that Antarctica can melt, the ocean can rise, and everybody will stand around the streets of Miami dumbfounded and drown!
If we give earlier human generations 20 years, that gives us 5 generations per century, so in 1,000 years with 10 centuries, we will have 50 generations. In 10,000 years we'll have 500 generations.
Obviously it only takes 1 generation escaping from the slow-moving ice sheets and glaciers for there to be MANY future generations.
A lot of stuff can go in 1,000 years!
35,000 years from now, everyone alive today will be dead, and it will all be George W. Bush's fault for not believing in destroying the US economy to prevent climate change.
Interesting muawiyah. Thanks for the thoughts.
They couldn’t be that old. I thought it was around 20,000 years ago that our human ancestors were zapped by the alien monolith and had their brains turbo-charged. Bringing about the revolution in art and technology that finally distinguished them from the neanderthals. Before that, there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between neanderthal and human artifacts.
I remember when the Chauvet cave hit the news. The horse paintings were the most awesome.
There’s even better stuff that’s been lost.
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Pettitt and his colleagues were unconvinced.Pettitt and his colleagues are nimrods.
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