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Art From a Lost World

An archeologist who spotted what looked like faces carved into a rock in Italy has discovered the world's oldest art?made not just by a different culture, but by a different species, 200,000 years ago.

David Whitehouse writes in BBCNews Online that Pietro Gaietto saw the carvings while on an expedition in the Borzonasca district of Italy. He recognized two faces looking in opposite directions. Local residents say there are many of these carved faces in the area. If this carving is genuine, and not just created by natural forces, the artist would have been one of an extinct human species that died out about 150,000 years ago, long before current human beings walked the Earth. Gaietto spotted the faces two years ago in a pile of rubble that was going to be as building material. He says, "If I had not spotted it, it would have been covered in concrete and put into a wall." The two faces are joined at the neck and looking in opposite directions?one of them has a beard. "It has a very expressive face," he says. "The beardless face has two eyes, a mouth and a wide nose."

Gaietto believes the sculpture is 200,000 years old, made by an extinct species of human called Homo erectus, which is known to have lived in there in the distant past. However, Homo erectus is not thought to have been capable of creating art.

The oldest art that most scientists agree is real are the 70,000-year-old engraved ochre pieces from the Blombos Cave in South Africa. The Tan-Tan object figurine from is 400,000 years old, but mainstream scientists think it was created by natural geological processes, despite its distinctive features.

Not everyone can see what is right before their eyes.

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