|11 February 2011
10,000-year-old stone carvings discovered in Timor
Ancient stone carvings dating back at least 10,000 years have been found by team of Australian scientists in a cave on East Timor - an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia. The findings, just published in the journal Antiquity, follow the discovery in the Lene Hara cave in May 2009.
The team of archaeologists and palaeontologists had been looking for the fossilised remains of extinct giant rats. But Dr Ken Aplin from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) accidentally saw the stylised face carvings in the limestone roof.
"One of our East Timorese colleagues was sitting up on top of a big block of limestone and I looked up to see what he was up to and as I did, my head-torch shone across the face of the limestone and I saw these incredible faces engraved on the surface," Dr Aplin said. "I called out to Sue, the archaeologist, 'Sue - you didn't tell me there were faces engraved here' and she said 'there aren't any' and I went 'come and have a look at this' and her mouth fell open when she saw them."
The Lene Hara carvings, or petroglyphs, are frontal, stylised faces each with eyes, a nose and a mouth. One has a circular headdress with rays that frame the face. Although stylised engravings of faces occur throughout Melanesia, Australia and the Pacific, the Lene Hara petroglyphs are the only examples that have been dated to the Pleistocene. No other petroglyphs of faces are known to exist anywhere on the island of Timor.
Edited from ABC News (11 February 2011)
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