Ancient carving found near Florida has been authenticated

By: The Scribe on Monday, July 4, 2011

A carving of a mammoth on a mammoth bone has recently been authenticated and scientists are now saying it is the oldest example of art found in the Americas. The piece was found near Vero Beach in Florida in either 2006 or 2007. Although it was discovered years ago it has taken until know for scientist to be able to authenticate it and figure out how old the piece actually was.

imageIt has been discovered that the carving is actually 13,000 years old. Originally, scientists believed that the piece was a fake. They began to compare the piece to other bones that were found at the site and studied them using electron microscopy. It was found that the carving did not have any coloring differences between carved grooves and other bones that were found on the site.

This is exciting for scientists as it means that the marks and grooves that were made on the bone aged at the same rate as other bones and debris found at the same site. If the marks had been made more recently it would mean that they were a different color than the other bone surfaces would have been. As there were no differences, it is now believed that the carvings were made approximately 13,000 years ago.

Even the bone itself supports these findings. Scientists believe that the bone fragment belonged to one of three mammals, all of which died out as the last ice age ended. This was between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago. Scientists have been able to figure out that the bone belonged to a mammoth, a giant sloth or a mastodon. The last mammoth was believed to have died out approximately 4,000 years ago but the species was on the decline as much as 10,000 years ago.

It was believed that a combination of climate change and predation by humans was responsible for the mammoths to become extinct. Scientists studied factors such as ocean currents and rainfall and were able to determine that the climate that the mammoths preferred (which was cold and dry) actually began to change approximately 42,000 years ago. The mammoths would have had issues with the warmer, wetter climate that began to set in.

Mammoths needed a large supply of coarse tundra vegetation in order to survive. Their imageteeth had actually evolved in order to consume this type of vegetation. When that type of plant matter began to die off it became difficult for the mammoths to eat the food that they had evolved to eat. It also did not help that humans began to hunt the mammoth as much as 40,000 years ago.

The artwork on the bone is exciting as it is a sign of what early Western art looked like. There are many differences between the mammoth incising and cave drawings and art that have been found in Europe. It is believed that they may have had a memory of what the artwork looked like in Europe but took the art in their own direction.


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