A group of speleologists exploring a cave in the Apuseni Nature Park in Transylvania, Romania, have discovered what could be Central Europe’s oldest cave art. Paintings of now-extinct species rhinoceros and cat were found next to images of bison, a horse, a bear’s head, and a female torso.
While dating cave art is difficult, based on the style archaeologists believe the figures are anywhere from 23,000 to 35,000 years old. No cave art this old has ever been found in Central Europe.
Coliboaia cave, where the art was discovered, is one of hundreds of caves in the Bihorului Mountains. Many have yet to be explored and there are likely to be more archaeological surprises in the future.
The question remains of what to do with the cave. There will be a temptation to open it to the public, but with the controversial reopening of Altamira in Spain, and the problems over preserving the paintings of Lascaux in France, the debate over how best to preserve humanity’s oldest art is growing louder than ever.
Lascaux image courtesy Sevela.p via Wikimedia Commons.
One of the more interesting sites of the modern world meeting up with the prehistoric one that I’ve ever seen is in the section of Los Angeles where the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits are within walking distance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and high rise buildings. The prehistoric dates back to 40,000 years according to the oldest bone fragment found in the pits.
Recently, the La Brea Tar Pits have shown up on the radar screen of interesting facts. If you’ve ever been there, you’ve seen the black tar bubble and perhaps thought about the animals trapped here before the last Ice Age. Bones of 600 animals have been recovered and are on display in at the Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits at the site. Dire wolfs, saber-toothed cats, Shasta ground sloths, a Columbian mammoth and an American mastodon are part of the bounty. The reason why there are so many? Think food chain. One sloth gets stuck and along comes a dire wolf to get dinner. Then comes the saber-tooth and so on.
Turns out the bubbling is caused by bacteria and not oil production that was thought to be happening 1,000 feet below the sticky, black goo. The bacteria feeds on the petroleum of this natural asphalt at the site and burp methane gas.