Cave Paintings May Be 'Oldest Yet'
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CAVE PAINTINGS MAY BE 'OLDEST YET'
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse
Wednesday, 1 November, 2000
What may be the world's oldest known cave paintings have been discovered in
northern Italy. They are between 32,000 and 36,500 years old.
Archaeologists have found tablets of stone showing images of an animal and a
The discovery adds to evidence that people living when Europe was in the
grip of the last Ice Age were more sophisticated than was once thought.
The painted slabs were discovered in Fumane Cave, near Verona. Previously
this cave has provided stone tools and other evidence of occupation.
Apparently, the slabs on which the drawings were found had fallen from the
cave roof and become embedded in the floor.
Alberto Broglio of the University of Ferrara said the paintings were covered
with calcite that made the original red ochre finish difficult to see.
Archaeologists have now removed much of the calcite.
Like many stone drawings from the distant past they are enigmatic and
difficult to interpret. On one of the slabs is an unknown, probably
symbolic, four-legged beast. A human figure with the head of an animal is
depicted on another slab.
The current record-holder for the oldest images are from the Grotte Chauvet
in southern France, dated at about 32,000 years old.
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