Ancient Cave Art Discovered

Prehistoric engravings that could date back as far as 28,000 BC have been found in a cave in western France. They are believed to predate the 18,000-year-old paintings in the Lascaux caves which are the world’s oldest cave paintings and are also in western France. Both caves are in France’s western Dordogne region.

?It is as important for engraving as Lascaux is for painting,? says Dany Baraud, an archaeologist at the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs of Aquitaine. The hundreds of yards of detailed engravings depict animals such as bison, horses, rhinoceroses and human figures. Ministry officials said the Cussac engravings are important mainly for their exceptional condition. The designs are particularly elaborate and are still deeply etched in the cave walls.

The site was discovered by an amateur cave explorer in September but was not announced by experts until today. Experts do not consider these engravings to be the oldest ever discovered. In 1994, a cave was found in the Ardeche region containing engravings dating back 32,000 years.

Seven graves containing human skeletons were also found in the cave. It isn?t known if the graves date back to the same period as the engravings, and results from radiocarbon-dating tests on the skeletons will not be available for several weeks. ?The presence of graves in a decorated cave is unprecedented,? says Jean Clottes, a French Culture Ministry official.

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