| 2 March 2017
Pointillist technique on engravings discovered in France
Aurignacian artists who decorated several newly rediscovered limestone blocks 38,000 years ago used small dots to create the illusion of a larger image - the same technique employed by Pointillist painters in the late 19th century.
Images on the stones include mammoths and horses, adding to previous isolated discoveries from the Grotte Chauvet, such as a rhinoceros formed by the application of dozens of dots first painted on the palm of the hand and then transferred to the cave wall.
Earlier this year, excavation team leader and New York University anthropologist Randall White and his colleagues reported finding the image of an aurochs - some of the earliest known graphic imagery found in Western Eurasia. Now they have found a woolly mammoth in the same style in a rock shelter of the same period known as Abri Cellier, near the previous find-site of Abri Blanchard.
Abri Cellier has long been on archeologists' list of major rock art sites attributed to the European Aurignacian. Excavations in 1927 yielded 15 engraved and/or pierced limestone blocks - a key point of reference for the study of Aurignacian art in the region.
In 2014 White and his colleagues returned to Abri Cellier seeking a better understanding of its archaeological sequence and relationship to other Aurignacian sites, but nothing prepared them for the discovery of the 16 stone blocks, 15 of which had been left behind by the 1927 excavators in case they might have something inscribed on them.
With these and other finds, White and his team have increased our known sample of the earliest graphic arts in southwestern France by 40 percent over the past decade.
Edited from EurekAlert!, PhysOrg, Popular Archaeology (24 February 2017)
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