A very rare piece of rock art dating back 12,250 years old depicts odd carvings not typical for that time during the Paleolithic Period. In fact, it has several oddities that make it quite different from other Late Upper Paleolithic art pieces. This rock in particular featured carvings of birds rather than deer, goats, and bison that were normally seen in drawings. The fact that rock is portable is also quite rare.
In addition to the birds drawn on the rock, it appears to show an actual scene instead of just individual figures of animals and/or humans. That would mean that it’s one of the earliest forms of narrative art ever discovered in Europe.
The limestone art piece, which measures 11.8 inches wide, was found at the Hort de la Bequera archaeological site in Spain in 2011. And it’s the only piece of its kind to have been discovered at the site even though they’ve been excavating that location for fourteen years.
Whoever created the art piece used a flint tool to engrave the lines into the soft limestone and the artist was very neat as there were no messy stroke marks which had been previously found in other art pieces from that time. There are five images engraved onto the rock: two humans, one large bird (probably a crane), and a chick. As for the fifth motif, there is a strange image close to the second human-like figure that can’t be identified. You can see pictures of this fascinating rock art by clicking here.
In addition to the great, well-preserved condition the rock was in, researchers also created a 3D digital model of the art piece. While it’s hard to say for sure what the image represents, it is believed that it’s in reference to hunting and motherhood.
Inés Domingo from the University of Barcelona, and who is the lead author of the new study, described the rock art in a press release, saying in part, “This is one of the few found scenes so far which suggest the birth of a narrative art in Europe, and this theme is unique… In the represented scene the birds catch the attention, they are copied or chased by two human figures. We do not know the meaning of the scene for prehistoric peoples, but what it says is that not only they [the birds] were regarded as preys but also as a symbol for European Paleolithic societies.”
The details of this discovery were published in the science journal L’Anthropologie which can be read here.
The art piece indicates that the artists during that time were a lot more sophisticated than previously thought, as they were able to create stories on rocks for people to find and admire thousands of years later. Now that’s remarkable.
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