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2 July 2016
4,000-year-old art gallery found in Siberia

Perfectly preserved images of humans, a bull, trees and birds - more than 20 petroglyphs found by accident years ago in a remote part of the Trans-Baikal region. Most intriguing is a human-like figure near a circle with a cross inside it. Experts kept the discovery secret for three years while they returned to study these drawings along Largi River near the village of Gorbitsa, not far from the northernmost border of China. The precise location is still not disclosed.
     Dr Sergei Alkin, from Novosibirsk University, was the first academic to closely examine the rocks, where paintings were made with red and orange ochre, an earthy pigment containing iron oxide.
     Dr Alkin says the site is rare. "It is large and contains many images, while generally on the rocks in this area show between one and three poorly preserved drawings."
     Preliminary dating suggests the find is around 4,000 years old.
     "The rock art is not just paintings or engravings," Dr Alkin said. "They are associated with the rituals and ceremonies. Usually at the site under the images are the altars, there are various tools, and arrowheads. Today this place is remote and scarcely populated, but in the times when Largi rock art was created it was relatively well inhabited. In addition, we want to explore the neighbourhood in search of other petroglyphs."
     The artists are likely to have been people of Tungus or Mongolian origins. Scientists hope analysis of the composition of the ochre will help locate the source of the raw material.

Edited from The Siberian Times (20 June 2016)

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