We help explore and preserve humanity's oldest stories. Join to be part of the adventure.
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Paleolithic engravings in one of the hundreds of art caves in Austurias. There are no "hard" dates on these engravings but they are certainly between 14,000 And 24,000 years old. #spain
Springtime outside Caces in Austurias, Spain. Asturias is full of paleolithic art sites. It also happens to be staggeringly beautiful. #spain
A partial negative hand print in El Castillo cave, Spain. There isn't a date on this particular print but other red ochre symbols in that cave are more than 40,000 years old. #spain#paleolithic
A short video clip pulled from a 3D model of Chauvet Cave, France. These charcoal drawings are 36,000 years old. Standing in front of them is the most incredible experience. You can practically hear that ice age artist speaking to you. Wanting to share that feeling of communication led me to found the Ancient Art Archive. We explore and preserve humanity's oldest stories. Follow the profile link to join the Archive.
Paleolithic abstract symbols in El Castillo Cave, Spain. Images of animals grab our attention, but most ancient symbols are not representational. The most widely distributed image has to be the dot, followed by the circle, then maybe the cross and box. Handprints -which also grab our attention because they are so personal- come in fairly far down the line in terms of numbers. These lines of dots and boxes likely meant something to the people who painted them 20 or 30,000 years ago, but that meaning is lost to time.
Ancient Art Archive founder @salvarezphoto recording 14,000 year old drawings inside a cave in Cantabria, Spain.
Sometimes ice age art is breathtakingly simple and mysterious.
15,000 years ago someone drew a series of Reindeer inside Las Chimeneas cave, Spain. All of them are rendered in this minimalist style. So delicate and evocative. None of the figures has a mouth... #spain#paleolithic
Sego Canyon Utah
Last night I told the story of the first time I saw Sego Canyon Utah. The story told by these paintings on rock walls in Utah was so powerful, so scary that I had to run away from them. So glad that now, 30 years later, I get to help explore and preserve the human story as told on rock and cave walls around the world. I want to thank @donnajmintz for hosting and @artsatlanta for sponsoring a wonderful event last night. Please follow the link in my (@salvarezphoto) or @ancientartarchive profiles to join the archive and help preserve these stories.
An esplanade polychrome panel in Mojave County, Arizona.
The few esplanade polychrome panels are often confused with Aboriginal Australian works. Their "x-ray" style reminds me of work found on the other side of the world. Although the two artworks are certainly unrelated. #rockart
"What do these images mean?" That is the question people most ask. What do they mean? The only honest answer is "we don't know." These images are likely 2,000 years old or older and their meaning may well be lost to time. But the delicate paintings on the roof of an alcove in the San Rafael Swell are clearly a story. Their ambiguous meaning adds to the mystery. It increases our curiosity and maybe gives the images even more power.
What does it mean? We don't know, but I do know that images, stories as beautiful as these are worth preserving and sharing. Join the Ancient Art Archive -there is a link in the profile- to help. With your help we can provide immersive VR experience of this art.
Pictographs in Marshal County, Alabama. This video is pulled from a 3D model we are working on of this major rock art site in Alabama. The model allows for precise measurement an observation of the art. It will also allow us -eventually- to deliver an immersive 3 Dimensional experience of being in front of this artwork. #alabama#3d
Negative handprints are the universal human symbol. They occur on 6 continents and across the entire span of modern human creativity. I’ve always thought of the handprint as the original selfie, the very first way that we marked our passage through the world. For a limited time joint the Ancient Art Archive @ancientartarchive at the $100 or greater level and receive a signed 6x9 print of this image of Ten Negative Handprints from Fish Canyon, Utah. Your contribution helps preserve and explore humanity’s oldest stories. Just follow the link in my this profile.
Delicate, intricate, exquisite… Barrier Canyon Style pictographs on the San Rafael Swell. These images are painted on an alcove wall high above one of the swell’s many canyons.
So what’s it look like on assignment for the Ancient Art Archive? We tend to shoot late and get up early so camp often looks like this, just a sleeping pad in the dirt on the side of a trailhead. In this case, Wild Horse wash on the San Rafael Swell in Utah. #utah#dirtbag
A lizard makes its way up the canyon wall in Dinosaur National Park.
My rock art obsession goes back a long way. I made this image on film in the late 80's on a long cross country drive. 30 years later I am still entranced by stories carved on rocks and cave walls across the world.
How old is it? Finding the dates of archeological sites is hard, finding the dates of art is even harder. To learn about how the age of these sites and things were determined follow the link in this profile and go to the "News" section.
A Paleolithic bull figure finger traced in the thin mud veneer of a cave in Spain.
Images at Paisley Caves
Here are the images drawn in Paisley Cave Number One. To see what they look like I used an enhancement program called D-Stretch to bring out the faded ochre drawings then drew the symbols in and superimposed them on a faded version of the original image.
Paisley has human usage going back at least 14,300 years. However, rock art is notoriously hard to date. It is likely that these images are old, but not 14K old. #d-stretch #oregon#greatbasin
The road to Five Mile Point and the Paisley Caves, Oregon. Tens of thousands of years ago a vast lake carved shallow cave like shelters into the edge of five mile point. Thousands of years after the lake receded people used those caves for occasional shelter from passing storms or as a good place to camp when hunting. Archaeologist Dennis Jenkins has built a career on -among other things- filling out the picture of how the Paisley Caves were occupied and used. His oldest dates are from human coprolites -fossilized poop- that date to 14,300 years BP. Follow the link in the profile and go to the News section for more info on the oldest site in North America. #oregon#greatbasin
An anthropomorphic figure from Nampaweap Petroglyph site in the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. Nampaweap is one of the largest rock art sites in the Arizona strip. It occupies the edge of a lava flow created by the 1050 AD Little Springs Eruption. There are thousands of individual engravings along the lava flow. Pottery embedded in the flow suggests that there were people living in the area at the time of the flow. Although quiet now, this corner of the American Southwest is incredibly geologically active. #arizona#nampaweap
Here it is, a goat or an ibex carved more than 20 millennium ago in a cave in Spain. If you look at the post before this one you’ll see what it takes to get to this place. No one was ever likely to see this delicately carved figure after one of our forbearers carved it. The exact motivation for the carving likely died with the artist. However, according to Dr. Marcos García Diez there are two kinds of Paleolithic cave art. Public Art and Private Art. Public pieces are the grand murals like Chauvet, Altamira, or El Castillo. Private art are pieces like this, made for personal reasons where the making not the viewing was likely the most important act.
Dr. Marcos García Diez squeezes through a tight cave passage in Northern Spain while looking for the world's oldest art. Marcos is one of the world's leading experts on the paleolithic art of Spain. He was leading me deep into this cave to show me the different kinds of cave art. There are huge, sites like the famous Altamira and El Castillo caves. Those artworks seem to have been made for public consumption. Then there are small intimate sites. He was leading me to one of those on this trip. We climbed, crawled and squeezed our way into the back of this cave. Finally after what felt like hours we came to a tiny passage that contained an exquisitely carved goat. It is among the most incredible things I have seen in my long career photographing for @natgeo. The passage was so narrow that only one of us could be in it at a time. 20,000 years ago one of my ancestors (I am Spanish after all) carved an animal into this the cave wall in a place that no one would likely see it. Why did they do it? We will never know, but tracking down those questions still fascinates me. #Spain
Sunrise at Sumner Lake, people have lived in this sage brush covered landscape for almost 15,000 years. Nearby Paisley Cave has the oldest dates of human occupation in America. A collection of hundreds of sage brush sandals from Fort Rock Cave are dated from more than 10,000 years ago. I've been in Oregon tracing and speaking about ancient art. The landscape is inspiring. #Oregon #peoplingoftheamericas
Uncovering the dig in Paisley Cave, Oregon
This site above Summer Lake near Paisley Oregon has yielded the oldest dates of human occupation in the Americas. Lead archeologist Dennis Jenkins (in back) thinks that this was an occasional camp. His oldest dates come from fossilized human coprolites radio carbon dated to 14,300 BP. Sometimes the cave saw lots of activity. 12,000 years ago there is a thick layer of antelope hair covering the cave floor. Dennis theorizes that dozens of people were coming to the area to band together and harvest antelope for the skins. He describes the activity as almost “Industrial” in scale.
Its not hard to imagine dozens of men, women and children in this place, spreading out onto the flat sagebrush plane that borders the lake and driving vast herds of antelope or rabbits together. #Oregon#peoplingoftheamericas
Summer Lake Sunrise
There have been people along the shores of Summer Lake for at least 13000 years. The oldest dates and artifacts in North America come from this Lake in the Northern Great Basin. 13000 years after the first people arrived the lake is smaller nut it still supports a huge ecosystem and is an important part of the Pacific flyway. #Oregon
In 1879 amateur archaeologist Marcelino Sanz was digging in the floor of a cave on his property in Cantabria. His 8 year old daughter Maria told him to look at the ceiling. There, perfectly preserved was one of the great treasures of Paleolithic Art. The artwork inside Altamira is so well preserved that initially people argued that the paintings were faked.
They are not! The bison polychrome paintings date from the Magdalenian (around 14,000 BP) but there was a long period of on again off again painting in Altamira that dates from the beginings of human occupation of Spain 35,000 years ago.
Those dates and time ranges are difficult to comprehend. We have been artists for a long, long time. It is part of who we are.
The Cumberland Plateau is full of caves.
Some of those caves are full of art.
In the past 2 decades hard work by Jan Simek at University of Tennessee and @alancressler has rewritten the deep artistic history of the Southeast. Their project identifying and documenting the "unnamed caves" has shed new light on what native american communities saw, thought and felt. There are now over 100 documented cave art sites in the Southeast thanks to their work.
The @ancientartarchive is now working with them to bring modern imagine technology, 3D mapping and Virtual Reality to those sites. It is enabling 20 years of work to be seen in a whole new way.
Please follow the link in this profile to join the Ancient Art Archive. We will be announcing some incredible discoveries from the South in the near future. But we can only continue exploring and preserving humanity's oldest stories with your help!
Barrier Canyon Style Petroglyphs Emery County, Utah
Barrier Canyon Style rock art is incredible, expressive, and enigmatic. #utah#bcs#sanraphaelswell
San rock art in Gamepass shelter, South Africa
The San of Southern Africa produced thousands of fantastic paintings including some large scale panels like Gamepass shelter. The San rock art painting tradition continued into historic times and much of the information we have about their world view comes from modern San people explaining the meaning of their ancestors' art.
The floor of this large sandstone cave in Comb Ridge intricately engraved with #basketmaker figures.the art and the location make this a truly remarkable place. It's one of thousands of prehistoric art sites in Utah. #ancientartarchive#utah