38000-year-old engraving found in Prehistoric rock-shelter

Researchers discovered an engraved image of an aurochs on a limestone slab found in a rock-shelter called Abri Blanchard, south-western France. The image is dating 38000 years to the past and is one of the earliest known images of nature made by modern humans.

Engraving of an auroch on limestone slab from Abri Blanchard (by Musée national de Préhistoire)

The site of Abri Blanchard was excavated in the early 20th cent. but a new investigation has been carried out by archaeologists since 2011, and the slab was found in 2012. It contains a complex image of an aurochs, also called urus, or wild cow, surrounded by rows of dots. The findings from the site are connected with early modern humans’ Aurignacian culture, which existed from approximately 43000-33000 years ago. The site, together with nearby Abri Castanet are known for one of the oldest artefacts of human symbolism, as hundreds of personal ornaments have been discovered there, including pierced animal teeth, pierced shells, ivory and soapstone beads, engravings, and paintings on limestone slabs. 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,

(after Musée national de Préhistoire & Heritage Daily)

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