BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 02:32 GMT
Cave paintings may be 'oldest yet'
Drawing Alberto Broglio
A human figure with the head of an animal
Image: Alberto Broglio

By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

What may be the world's oldest known cave paintings have been discovered in northern Italy. They are between 32,000 and 36,500 years old.

Archaeologists have found tablets of stone showing images of an animal and a human-like creature.

The discovery adds to evidence that people living when Europe was in the grip of the last Ice Age were more sophisticated than was once thought.

The painted slabs were discovered in Fumane Cave, near Verona. Previously this cave has provided stone tools and other evidence of occupation.

Symbolic human

Apparently, the slabs on which the drawings were found had fallen from the cave roof and become embedded in the floor.

Drawing Alberto Broglio
A four-legged beast?
Image: Alberto Broglio

Alberto Broglio of the University of Ferrara said the paintings were covered with calcite that made the original red ochre finish difficult to see. Archaeologists have now removed much of the calcite.

Like many stone drawings from the distant past, they are enigmatic and difficult to interpret. On one of the slabs is an unknown, probably symbolic, four-legged beast. A human figure with the head of an animal is depicted on another slab.

The current record-holder for the oldest images are from the Grotte Chauvet in southern France, dated at about 32,000 years old.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

02 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Earliest evidence of art found
09 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Ice Age star map discovered
16 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Oldest lunar calendar identified
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories