Tuesday Jul 26, 201110:29 AM GMT
Ice Age rock art found in Britain
Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:31AM
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The Ice Age rock art was found on the Gower peninsula, south Wales.
Archeologists have found a wall carving in a cave in south Wales, which they believe dates back to the Ice Age, and is Britain's oldest example of rock art.


Dr. George Nash, who found the faint scratching of a speared reindeer, says it was carved by an Ice Age hunter-gatherer more than 14,000 years ago, the state-funded BBC reported.

The part-time academic of Bristol University made the discovery on the Gower peninsula in September 2010.

"It was a strange moment of being in the right place at the right time with the right kit,” said Nash.

"For 20-odd years I have been taking students to this cave and talking about what was going on there.

"They went back to their cars and the bus and I decided to have a little snoop around in the cave as I've never had the chance to do it before.

"Within a couple of minutes I was scrubbing at the back of a very strange and awkward recess and there a very faint image bounced in front of me - I couldn't believe my eyes."

According to Nash, the characteristics of the reindeer drawing match the ones found in northern Europe around 4,000-5,000 years later, the discovery of flint tools in the cave in the 1950s could hold the key to the carving's true date.

"In the 1950s, Cambridge University undertook an excavation there and found 300-400 pieces of flint and dated it to between 12,000-14,000 BCE,” he said.

"This drawing was done with the right hand and the niche is very, very tight and the engraving has been done by somebody using a piece of flint who has drawn a classic reindeer design.

"My colleagues in England have been doing some work in Nottinghamshire at Creswell Crags and got very nice dates for a red deer and one or two other images of around 12,000-14,000 BC.

"I think this [newly found carving] may be roughly the same period or may be even earlier."

The limestone cliffs along the Gower coast are famous for their archaeological importance.

"We know from the glacial geology of the area this was an open area just before the ice limit came down from the glaciers 15,000-20,000 years ago and it stops just about 2km short of the cave site,” said Dr. Nash.

"We know hunter fisher gatherers were roaming around this landscape, albeit seasonally, and they were burying their dead 30,000 years ago and making their mark through artistic endeavour between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago."

Experts at the National Museum of Wales and Cadw are now officially dating and verifying the rock art.

TE/GHN
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