Paleolithic engraved panels animated by fire

What could our ancestors have done 15,000 years ago, when it was evening? The discoveries made at the site of Montastruc (France) provide an overview. The artifacts found date back to the Magdalenian period, an Upper Paleolithic cultural era spanning from 17,000 to 14,000 BC. was for sane man A period rich in the production of portable or mural art in Western Europe, over a geographic area stretching from Portugal to Germany. Among these finds, engraved stone panels have caught the attention of researchers regarding their use: were they functional, decorative, or ritualistic? This study was published in PLUS ONE On April 20, 2022, it presents a new way of understanding European Paleolithic art.

Mysterious Engraved Stones

In the mid-nineteenth century, archaeologist Peccadeau de l’Isle discovered about fifty limestone slabs in Montastruc, a town in southwestern France. Their bodies were exhumed from a 29-meter-high limestone shelter near the Aveyron River, a place occupied by human societies about 15,000 years ago. They are covered with carvings of animals (horses, reindeer, caribou, cattle), anthropomorphic figures and abstract ornaments, sometimes intertwined with each other. For nearly two centuries, these paintings have been kept in The British Museum As artifacts from the Paleolithic period.

Recently, a team of archaeologists wanted to analyze it thoroughly, although there was a significant drawback: the context for the discovery of these plates is very old and insufficiently accurate. Without an idea of ​​their original location in the sanctuary, and the depth of their burial when they were discovered, the explanation for their function is more speculative. However, the analysis of these paintings thanks to digital technologies revealed clues. The radiocarbon dating of two of them inferred that they were made between 16,000 and 13,500 years before the present, suggesting their homogeneity. On site.

close contact with fire

Thanks to an arsenal of technologies such as microscopy, 3D modeling and virtual reality, it was possible to notice that these chips were poorly exposed to light, but also most of them bear traces of heating. They probably stayed in the shelter and near a stove with low ambient light. Many are cracked or tolerate thermal fractures, as well as traces of pink discoloration that appear to be burnt. This is the phenomenon of redness: the stone takes on a red color when heated between 100 ° C and 300 ° C. Above 600 ° C, the stone takes on a light gray tint.

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According to the team, this platelet-burning activity could be unique to Montastruc. Several assumptions are made:

Frank Mccarthy

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