13,000 year old cave painting of a mammoth is discovered in Britain


Blackleaf
#1
Prehistoric cave carving hailed as 'one of most significant examples ever found in Britain'

14th August 2007
Daily Mail


The 13,000 year old cave painting of a woolly mammoth was discovered in Cheddar Gorge, in Somerset, south west England. Cheddar Gorge is like England's version of the Grand Canyon (though much smaller). The world famous Cheddar cheese (the REAL Cheddar cheese) is also made inside the gorge.


A 13,000-year-old carving discovered in an ancient cave is being hailed as one of the most significant examples of prehistoric art ever found in Britain.

The carving - a little larger than a man's hand - is only the second piece of representational cave art found in Britain which is contemporary with the golden age of cave art in Europe.

It was discovered in Gough's Cave at Cheddar Caves and Gorge, Somerset, by researchers from Bristol University.

Gough's Cave is the largest showcave at Cheddar and was home to Stone Age ancestors. It was re-discovered by Richard Gough in 1890.

Britain had a flourishing Stone Age culture but unlike prehistoric sites in France and Spain no cave paintings or carvings had been found until recently, when the discovery of Stone Age carvings of animals and humans at Cresswell Crags, near Sheffield in April 2003 launched a new hunt for prehistoric cave art.


The 13,000-year-old carving of a mammoth found in Cheddar Caves in Somerset. The diagram below highlights the creature's outline, including an eye and its tusks





Until then it was believed that people visiting and using caves in Britian during the Ice Age were not decorating the caves with pictures of animals and other markings.

This was despite having all the necessary tools and materials, ochre, manganese and charcoal. But that has now changed after the discoveries in Sheffield and Cheddar.

Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson, of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society, spent several years minutely examining various Cheddar Caves for almost imperceptible carvings, using sophisticated new lighting techniques.

They have uncovered geometrical carvings in Long Hole, and the 13,000-year-old mammoth in Gough's Cave.

It is believed the carving, in an isolated niche, may have been used by tribal shamans in religious rituals.

It lies beyond the main living area of the Stone Age tribe which inhabited the cave.


An artists's impression of a prehistoric mammoth in all its glory


On the carving, which has just gone on display to the public, the creature's huge tusks are the clearest feature.

Bob Smart, curator of Cheddar Caves Museum, said: "The carving is in an inner cave which would have been used by shamans for religious purposes such as invoking animal spirits.

"The carving would have had a religious connotation and would have been important in the lives of the people that lived in the caves.

"Originally the carving would have been very brilliantly painted to make it to stand out but the paint hasn't survived the passage of time.

"We are confident there are more of these but they are very difficult to spot.

"I was intrigued when Graham and Linda first suggested this project and delighted they have brought it to a successful conclusion both in Gough's Cave and in Long Hole. They have brought to light evidence which had been overlooked for a century."

Cheddar Caves director Hugh Cornwell said: "We've got to hand it to Graham and Linda. They looked closely at rock faces which had only been glanced at by previous archaeologists, and have come up with some very exciting finds.

"Gough's Cave has always been one of Britain's most important prehistoric sites and inhabited for more than 1,000 years by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

"The country's first evidence of cannibalism was found here and also Britain's oldest complete skeleton, Cheddar Man. The mammoth carving was found just beyond the daylight zone where our ancestors ate and slept.

"Now, thanks to special lighting and a small display, all our customers can walk in and admire our mammoth. This is certainly a significant find."

Graham Mullan added that British cave art was so rare because the population at the time was minute.

He said: "The mammoth carving at Cheddar was done just after the ice started to retreat from its maximum distribution and people were returning to Britain from the warmer Continent where they had taken refuge.

"Britain was looked upon as the edge of the known world at this time and the populatin was tiny and so there was less cave art created here than in France and Spain.

"The climate in Britain is generally wetter than the Continent too so if paints were used on the cave art it doesn't survive very well.

"Gough's cave for instance is still subject to flooding to this day so it's easy to see how paints could be washed away. Cave art tended to disappear after the ice age.

"But now that two examples of cave art have been found it's inevitable that there will be more."

dailymail.co.uk
 
JoeSchmoe
#2
THat's a cave carving??? hehehe.... I like how they have to re-create the "carving" so that you can even see it! Yes, it COULD be a woolly mammoth I suppose.... but then it could also be a drawing of Homer Simpson!!

Call me a skeptic.....
 
Unforgiven
#3
D'oh
 
smilingfish
#4
I don't see anything...
 
I think not
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by smilingfishView Post

I don't see anything...

You have to be British to see it.
 
55Mercury
#6
if they were smart, they'd say it was the Virgin Mary and sell tickets.

You see, Gronk (if you look closely you can see his autograph) was not only an artist, he was the world's first prophet!

 
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