Thursday, February 18, 2010

Messages from the Stone Age : Cave Writing Underestimated : 17 February 2010 : New Scientist

Messages from the Stone Age : Cave Writing Underestimated : 17 February 2010 : New Scientist

Kate Ravilious in "The writing on the cave wall" at the NewScientist.com reports:

"While some scholars like [Jean Clottes] Clottes had recorded the presence of cave signs at individual sites, Genevieve von Petzinger, then a student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, was surprised to find that no one had brought all these records together to compare signs from different caves. And so, under the supervision of April Nowell, also at the University of Victoria, she devised an ambitious masters project. She compiled a comprehensive database of all recorded cave signs from 146 sites in France, covering 25,000 years of prehistory from 35,000 to 10,000 years ago.

What emerged was startling: 26 signs, all drawn in the same style, appeared again and again at numerous sites (see illustration). Admittedly, some of the symbols are pretty basic, like straight lines, circles and triangles, but the fact that many of the more complex designs also appeared in several places hinted to von Petzinger and Nowell that they were meaningful - perhaps even the seeds of written communication."

Read the full article here.

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