This stone fragment may not look like much, but it may blow open the door to understanding early human culture in Eurasia tens of thousands of years ago.
A major new find in the Vezere Valley in France is making the rounds in the world of anthropology. A research team from New York University has found a 38,000-year-old piece of engraved art that could shed light on the first modern humans to enter the continent.
This particular fragment was found ina rock shelter at the excavation site, and is one of the earliest known pieces of graphic imagery ever found in Western Eurasia. It is believed to come from Aurignacian culture, which dates from between 43,000 and 33,000 years ago. The piece was first found in 2012, but its significance wasn’t realized until this latest study.
The excavation site in the French valley has become home to a lot of archaeological finds over the years, including other paintings and engravings as well as human remains. It’s proved to be an important place to study early human culture.
“The discovery sheds new light on regional patterning of art and ornamentation across Europe at a time when the first modern humans to enter Europe dispersed westward and northward across the continent,” explains NYU anthropologist Randall White, who led the excavation in France’s Vézère Valley.
“Following their arrival from Africa, groups of modern humans settled into western and Central Europe, showing a broad commonality in graphic expression against which more regionalized characteristics stand out,” he explains. “This pattern fits well with social geography models that see art and personal ornamentation as markers of social identity at regional, group, and individual levels.”