News

  • Hard dates on the Kimberly Paintings 17,000 years ago!
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    An article published today in the Journal Nature Human Behavior (here subscription requited) establishes the date of some of the Kimberly rock art paintings as 17,000 years ago. Rock art is notoriously hard to date. The authors of the study took radio carbon dates from wasp nests built on top of paintings to establish minimum dates. One painting in particular is dated to between 17,500 and 17,100 years ago by dating material in overlying and underlying nests. CNN provides and excelent synopsis here.
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  • Rock Art in the Bears Ears National Monument
    Bears Ears National Monument is 3 years old
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    The Bears Ears National Monument is 3 years old!
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  • Big News from Indonesia
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    There was big news from Indonesian earlier this month. A multinational team has identified the oldest known figurative paintings in the world on the island of Sulawesi. The new dates 44,000 years BP are in line -yet older- than other dates from Sulawesi and Borneo. In their paper in Nature Maxime Aubert has identified not just animals but therianthropes “abstract beings that combine the qualities of both people and animals.” (there is an excellent discussion of the article in Smithsonian) Six humanoid figures with animal features surround an anoa, a small type of buffalo, in a 44,000-year-old Indonesian cave mural. (Ratno Sardi) Therianthropes are incredibly rare in paleolithic cave art. The most famous example is the transforming bison from Chauvet made famous by Cave of Forgotten Dreams and there is a lesser-known anthropomorphic figure from Tito Bustillo in Spain. A therianthrope figure in Tito Bustillo cave, Spain. Aubert’s find further confirms...
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  • Platinum Palladium Print
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    Master platinum-palladium printer and Guggenheim Grant winner Pradip Malde produced an exquisite, limited-edition print to support the Ancient Art Archive. Pradip and I chose a photograph of the Head of Sinbad rock art site on the San Rafael Swell in Central Utah for this print. The paintings are Barrier Canyon Style and thought to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old. I shot the image this spring with Pradip’s printing in mind. Platinum print by Pradip Malde, image by Stephen Alvarez image size approximately 9" x 14"
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  • Good News for the San Rafael Swell
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    Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel on the San Rafael Swell Those of you who have been following the Ancient Art Archive's work are familiar with our efforts to document Barrier Canyon Style (BCS) artworks. BCS is one of North America's most enigmatic and evocative styles. It is known, primarily from the San Rafael Swell of Central Utah. In general conservation news has been bad in Utah for the past few years. Both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monuments were significantly reduced. However, last month a mammoth public lands bill passed both the House and Senate that will increase protections on many National Lands. Among many other things the bill adds 660,000 acres of wilderness designation to Emery County Utah, home of much of the San Rafael Swell. You can read more here. The Rochester Rock Art Panel in Emery County Utah
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  • Pahranagat representational style
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    Pahranagat anthropomorphic figures are unique to the Pahranagat Valley of Southern Nevada. There are two types of figures;
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  • Barrier Canyon Rock Art, Utah
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    A Barrier Canyon Painting in Southern Utah
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  • Grotte Pair-non-Pair, Aquitaine France
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    The paleolithic cave Pair-non-Pair was found when a farmer went looking for a lost cow who had fallen in a hole, the cave he discovered
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  • A nearly 1 million year old hominid fossil in Europe
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    A recent study of a hominid tooth found in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain has confirmed through direct dating that the fossilized remains are nearly 1 million years old. The dating estimate is between 750,000 and 950,000 years before present. It is consistent with sediment deposits at the site but represents the first direct date from a hominid that old. The ESR dating and challenges are explained in Phys.org here. The Atapuerca Mountains have continued to yield very interesting clues about the first hominid inhabitants of Europe. While this new discovery confirms previous associated dates it is exciting in that it opens up the possibility that there will be other direct dates from Hominid fossils both in and out of Europe.  
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  • The story of human evolution is written in ochre
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    Mixing ochre paint under a tree in Omungunda Namibia. "Smeared on shells, piled in graves, stamped and stenciled on cave walls from South Africa to Australia, Germany to Peru, ochre has been a part of the human story since our very start — and perhaps even earlier. For decades, researchers believed the iron-rich rocks used as pigment at prehistoric sites had symbolic value. But as archaeologists turn up evidence of functional uses for the material, they’re realizing early humans’ relationship with ochre is more complex." read more in Discover Magazine here
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  • New light on human evolution
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    New light on human evolution Groundbreaking research puts human evolution in a new perspective as significant archaeological findings reveals sign of modern human behavior 300 000 years ago. "This discovery suggests that the earliest African Homo sapiens populations were already cognitively, socially and technologically complex", says Francesco d’Errico. He is a professor at UiB and Principal Investigator at the Centre for Early Sapiens Behavior (SapienCE). He is also part of the international team behind the remarkable findings in Kenya, and one of the co-authors of the article that has been published in Science, covering these discoveries. Sophisticated early life It is not every day that investigators stumble over findings that can change the understanding of human history, but these particular discoveries may be just one of these great moments. Francesco d’Errico is not denying the fact that these discoveries are significant. Continue Reading on UIB.NO
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  • Oldest Paintings in the World now over 65,000 years old
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    Gallery C of La Pasiega cave in Monte Castillo. The big news this week in Anthropology is that a species besides humans seems to have painted. Dirk Hoffman and Allistair Pike have published an article in the journal Science that dates the paintings to well over 65,000 years ago. That is 25,000 years older than previously dated art from Spain and Indonesia. 65,000 years ago the only known species that could have made the paintings are Neanderthals. The dates come from three caves widely separated in Spain. This is a stunning development in the world of art history. Hoffman and Pike explain their results in the video below. You can reach the Science article here. In this video from National Geographic shot in 2014 Allistair Pike discusses his belief that Neanderthals could have made art.
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  • Procession Panel, San Juan County Utah
    Procession Panel, San Juan County Utah
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    Procession Panel, San Juan County Utah
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  • The Dogs of Saudi Arabia first images of domesticated dogs
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAGprHaKAZo&feature=youtu.be A rock art panel from Saudi Arabia may well be the oldest record of domesticated dogs. Maria Guagnin has been working on engravings in the Shuwaymis Hills of northwestern Saudi Arabia. She has cataloged over 1400 images from the region including what may be dogs on a leash. This article in Science lays out her work. Rock art is notoriously hard to date, but if her dates are accurate these engravings are likely 8,000 - 9,000 years old. That edges out Iranian depictions of mans best friend by 1,000 years.  
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  • Deep Time Explained
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    Time is one of the hardest concepts to wrap your head around. People have been on the earth for about 300,000 years. For almost all of that time, we've been hunter-gatherers. But how long has the Earth been here? NPR's Skunk Bear does a great job of helping us visualize Earth's history and our place in it. The video is below and the original post is here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8V_glRW1hA&feature=youtu.be
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