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Mysterious Pattern in a Cave Is Oldest Rock Art Found in Patagonia

Mysterious Pattern in a Cave Is Oldest Rock Art Found in Patagonia


In the stark inland desert of Patagonia in Argentina, there’s a distant cave adorned with practically 900 work of human figures, animals and summary designs. Until lately, archaeologists had assumed that the rock artwork at this web site, often known as Cueva Huenul 1, was created inside the previous few thousand years.

But in a paper printed Wednesday within the journal Science Advances, archaeologists say that one of many cave’s most mysterious motifs, a comblike sample, first appeared some 8,200 years in the past, making it by far the earliest identified instance of rock artwork in one of many final locations on Earth to be settled by our species. Cave artists continued to attract the identical comb design in black pigment for hundreds of years, an period when different human exercise was just about absent on the web site. The cave artwork gives a uncommon glimpse of a tradition that will have relied on this design to speak precious insights throughout generations throughout a interval of climactic shifts.

“We acquired the outcomes and we have been very shocked,” stated Guadalupe Romero Villanueva, an creator of the research and an archaeologist on the Argentine authorities company CONICET and the National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought in Buenos Aires. “It was a shock, and we needed to rethink some issues.”

Patagonia, which spans the southern tip of South America, was not reached by people till about 12,000 years in the past. These early inhabitants thrived at Cueva Huenul 1 for generations, leaving indicators of habitation.

Then, round 10,000 years in the past, the realm turned extra arid and hostile on account of climatic shifts. The archaeological document within the cave likewise dried up for the following a number of thousand years, suggesting that the positioning was largely deserted due to environmental pressures.

The comb motifs overlap with this lengthy interval of hardship, in line with Dr. Romero Villanueva and her colleagues, who recognized the age of the work with radiocarbon courting. The group additionally discovered that the black paint was most likely made with charred wooden, maybe from burned shrubs or cactuses.

“As fascinating because the ages are, for us it’s extra important that they span, roughly, 3,000 years of portray principally the identical motif throughout all this time,” stated Ramiro Barberena, an creator of the research and an archaeologist additionally at CONICET in Argentina in addition to the Temuco Catholic University in Chile.

He added that this was proof “for continuity within the transmission of knowledge in these very small and really cellular societies.”

Though the that means of the comb motif has been misplaced to time, the researchers speculate that it may need helped protect the collective reminiscences and oral traditions of peoples who endured this unusually sizzling and dry interval.

The relationships between teams of historical people that developed and shared such rock artwork might have enhanced the chances of survival on this difficult surroundings, Dr. Barberena stated.

Andrés Troncoso, an archaeologist within the division of anthropology on the University of Chile who was not concerned with the analysis, stated he agreed with that interpretation. The paper “gives a contribution to the dialogue about how people have handled climatic change previously,” he stated.

Though the aim of the comb motif is prone to stay a thriller, the motif’s persistent presence within the cave opens a brand new window into Patagonia’s prehistoric peoples.

“You can’t assist however take into consideration these individuals,” Dr. Romero Villanueva stated, including: “They have been on the similar place, admiring the identical panorama; the individuals residing right here, perhaps households, have been gathering right here for social elements. It’s actually emotional for us.”

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