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More Stone Age Art Discovered in Italy’s Romanelli Cave

More than a century after first discovering cave art dating back to the Stone Age in Italy’s Romanelli Cave (they were found in 1905), a team of archaeologists, geologists, and paleontologists have recently found more drawings. The newly discovered Paleolithic art includes geometric designs, a bovid (hoofed mammal), and a bird.

The cave, which is located on the southeast coast of Italy and is only seven meters above the Adriatic Sea, was found back in 1874 but it was very difficult to get access to it based on its location. That’s why the first rock art was only discovered in 1905. The cave itself has two areas: an inner chamber; and a main chamber that had collapsed and where large boulders had fallen from the ceiling.

(Not Romanelli Cave)

The art that is in the main chamber is located up in a frieze (horizontally drawn art near the ceiling), and the ones in the inner chamber are in two wall alcoves (similar to a nook or opening). The newfound geometric patterns were created with a soft white material found in limestone caves called “moonmilk”.

As for the bird drawing, it was believed to have been a “rare depiction” of an auk (short-winged diving seabird). It was quite detailed with three short lines that were drawn near its eye that depicted its feathers. Auk drawings have previously been found in caves in France and Spain. However, birds aren’t normally found in Paleolithic art which makes the discovery in Italy very interesting. Additionally, whoever made the art used several different tools to make the drawings. (Pictures can be seen here.)

Auks painted by Archibald Thorburn (Via Wikipedia)

Dario Sigari from the Universita degli Studi di Ferrara described the art in further detail, “They [the new images] further confirm the existence of a shared visual heritage across a wide part of Eurasia during the Late Upper Paleolithic [period], opening new questions about social dynamics and the spread of common iconographic motifs around the Mediterranean Basin.”

He added that the excavations of the cave have revealed a new estimate that it was used by ancient humans between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago. “These new dates and the fact images are layered over each other suggest the cave was in used for a longer period than previously supposed, with multiple episodes of art-making.”

Ancient rock art isn’t the only interesting thing that was found in the cave as previous excavations have revealed animal bones, human bones, and numerous art objects such as stones that may have fell from the walls or ceiling.

Their study can be read in full here.

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Jocelyne LeBlanc works full time as a writer and is also an author with two books currently published. She has written articles for several online websites, and had an article published in a Canadian magazine on the most haunted locations in Atlantic Canada. She has a fascination with the paranormal and ghost stories, especially those that included haunted houses. In her spare time, she loves reading, watching movies, making crafts, and watching hockey.