Amateur archaeologist finds and decodes ice-age cave drawings in EU
Research indicates that the drawings found in the cave were not mere art but also a record of the timing of animals’ reproductive cycles, which Bacon calls the “proto-writing” system.
An amateur archaeologist claimed to have discovered a primitive writing system dating back to the ice age, describing the 20,000-year-old markings as a form of a lunar calendar.
Ben Bacon's research indicates that the drawings found in the cave were not mere art but also a record of the timing of animals’ reproductive cycles, which Bacon calls the “proto-writing” system. He collaborated with a team consisting of two professors from Durham University and one from University College London, to publish the research in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
One of the professors, Prof Paul Pettitt, who is also an archaeologist at Durham University, expressed he was “glad he took it seriously” when he was contacted by the researcher: “The results show that ice age hunter-gatherers were the first to use a systemic calendar and marks to record information about major ecological events within that calendar,”
Other cave paintings of species such as fish and cattle that are now extinct such as aurochs and bison have been stumbled upon in Europe, alongside sequences of dots and other marks on them. These markings are thought by archaeologists to have meaning but so far have not been decoded or deciphered.
But, Bacon took the challenge and set out to decode the markings by going through archives and cave art imagery at the British Library. He expressed that it was “surreal” to try and find out what people were talking about 20,000 years ago.
The research team concluded that the marks associated with ice age animals were a record, by lunar month, of mating seasons. They deduced so by referring to birth cycles of similar animals today and believed that the “Y” sign meant “giving birth”.
Pettitt relayed: “We’re able to show that these people – who left a legacy of spectacular art in the caves of Lascaux (France) and Altamira (Spain) – also left a record of early timekeeping that would eventually become commonplace among our species.”