Saturday, January 20, 2018

8,000-YEAR-OLD DOG PETROGLYPHS IN SAUDI ARABIA:



Rock art panel, Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah blog, public domain.

Hundreds of images of domesticated dogs have been found in rock art of the Arabian peninsula at the Shuwaymis and Jubbah sites in northwestern Saudia Arabia. "While documenting thousands of rock-art panels there, Maria Guagnin, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, counted 156 dogs at Shuwaymis and 193 at Jubbah." (Gannon 2017)


Shuwaymis rock art,
public domain.

"Etched into the rock walls of dried-out valleys and slopes in the Arabian peninsula, the 8,000-year-old hunting scenes even feature some dogs on leashes. Those images - the oldest archaeological evidence of dog leashes - suggest humans were controlling and training dogs even before they settled down into farming communities." (Gannon 2017) These dog petroglyphs, which may be the oldest dog images known in rock art, are beautifully done, with graceful lines. They suggest an appreciation of, even affection for, the subject.


Rock art and Canaan dog.
ancientorigins.net,
public domain.

The canines portrayed look similar to the modern breed of Canaan dogs with "pricked ears, short snouts, and curled tails - and they look distinct from the hyenas and wolves depicted elsewhere in the rock-art panels." (Gannon 2017) In other words, they seem to be domesticated dogs, not wild canids.


Shuwaymis rock art panel, Saudi
Arabia, ancientorigins.net,
public domain.

"The team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute report that the panels they found on the Arabian Peninsula are between 8,000 and 9,000 years old, which might make them the oldest dog images on record. That title currently  belongs to painted pottery from southwestern Iran that's also about 8,000 years old, so which is unequivocally the oldest is not yet clear." (Sloat 2017) It illustrates that man's best friend may also be his oldest, and documents a relationship between canine and human.

ancientorigins.net, public domain.

"The archaeological record shows the first undisputed dog remains buried beside humans 14,700 years ago, with disputed remains occurring 36,000 years ago - The dog was the first species to be domesticated." (Wikipedia) So, while these images are not the earliest evidence of domesticated dogs, they may well be the first images of domesticated dogs - until older ones are found.

NOTE: Images in this posting were retrieved from the internet after a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the originals at the sites listed below.

REFERENCES:

Gannon, Megan
2017 8,000-Year-Old Rock Art Includes the World's Oldest Images of Dogs, Live Science, November 20, 2017, https:/www.livescience.com/60982-oldest-images-of-dogs-on-leashes.html?utm_siyrce=ls-newsletter&utm_medium=enauk&ytn_campoign=20171120-ls

https://ancientorigins.net

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_the_domestic_dog

Sloat, Sarah
2017 Earliest Known Images of Dogs Reveal Origins of Their Bond With Humans, November 17, 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/earliest-known-images-dogs-reveal-185200248.html

Saturday, January 13, 2018

RUSSIAN PAINTING OF A CAMEL COULD BE 38,000-YEARS-OLD:


I honestly do not know why I find the story below so charming, but the picture of the camel is really good, it is unique, and represents a new subject added to the catalog of rock art imagery. Enjoy!


 Camel painting, Kapova Cave,
Southern Urals, Russia.
look4ward.uk.co,
public domain.

After some restoration work to remove built-up calcite layers a wonderful painting of a two-humped (Bactrian) camel has been revealed in a Russian cave, which raises questions about the travel patterns of prehistoric peoples. "The image, said to date back between 14,500 to 37,700 years, was found in the Kapova Cave, part of the Southern Urals mountain range, by renowned restoration scientist Eudald Guillamet. Located in Russia's Bashkir Ural Territory, the limestone grotto is almost a natural museum to Paleolithic art with more than 150 examples of ancient depictions." (Rees 2017)


Panel before restoration
(you can see the hindquarters
of the camel on the left).
www.ancient-origins.net, 
public domain.

A press release from Lomonosov Moscow State University, quoted in Eurekalert.org stated that "the age of the drawings in this panel cannot be accurately established yet, but the results of uranium-thorium dating of the calcite deposits on which the image is painted, and which cover it, unambiguously show that the time period during which the drawing was made was during the upper Paleolithic age, which is no earlier than 37,700 years ago and no later than 14,500 years ago. In the course of excavating the Kapova cave, only the upper layer of deposits with traces of activity of Paleolithic artists, about 17,000 - 19,000 years ago, has been dated so far." (Eurekalert.org 2017)


Kapova Cave map. 



Range of Bactrian Camel.

Also of great interest is the fact that the painted camel in Kapova cave is a very long distance from the historic range of the Bactrian camel. A couple of centuries ago the nearest that wild Bactrian camels ranged was over 1,000 miles from Kapova. I have been unable to find the information on Paleolithic ranges for this animal, but "this artwork confirms the belief that artists in the Upper Paleolithic could migrate over long distances, especially as camels were not native to this region during this time." (Eurekalert.org 2017)


Mammoth panel, Kapova Cave,
Southern Urals, Russia.
public domain.

The paintings of Kapova have long been known and admired. More than 150 images of mammoths, wooly rhinoceroses, and large ungulates are to be found there, but the camel image only recently came to light during a careful restoration on the cave wall by renowned restoration scientist Eudald Guillamet. (Rees 2017) So much to see with no end in sight. What a wonderful world.

NOTE: Images in this posting were retrieved from the internet after a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the originals at the sites listed below.


REFERENCES:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-11/lmsu-shd112717.php, 27 November 2017.

Rees, Lindsay
2017 Prehistoric Russian Camel Painting Could Be 38,000 Years Old, http://www.look4ward.co.uk/archeology/prehistoric-russian-camel-painting-could-be-38-000-years-old/

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A FLATFISH PETROGLYPH AT NANAIMO PETROGLYPH PARK, VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA:



Flatfish petroglyph, Nanaimo
Petroglyph Provincial Park, 
Vancouver Island, British Columbia,
 Canada. Photo Peter Faris, 1992. 

On the eastern side of the island of Vancouver Island is Nanaimo Petroglyph Provincial Park, dedicated to displaying and explaining rock art of the local indigenous Nootkan First Nations people. Not only does Nanaimo boast areas of bedrock petroglyphs, but casts and reproductions in cement of petroglyphs from other locations are also on display. One image on a section of exposed bedrock is the charming little flatfish shown above.


Flatfish petroglyph, Nanaimo
Petroglyph Provincial Park, 
Vancouver Island, British Columbia,
 Canada. Photo Peter Faris, 1992.

Now Northwest Coast tribes are famous for their fishing skills, and are known to regularly catch halibut weighing hundreds of pounds, but this does not seem to represent a halibut. Flatfish are found in the northern Pacific in many shapes and sizes, up to three dozen different fish are counted, but this petroglyph reminds me most of one specific fish. The shape, small size, and the conformation of his fins suggest to me that this image is of a Pacific Sanddab.

Much smaller than some of its giant cousins, the Pacific Sanddab, Citharichthys sordidus, achieves a length of only about sixteen inches when grown. Were it identifiable as a halibut, it could commemorate an important idea; possibly a young man's first major catch as a fisherman, or a clan symbol important to the local residents. But this fish, if it is a Pacific sanddab, is considerably smaller and probably less significant.
Pacific Sanddab, Citharichthys sordidus.
www.recfin.org, public domain.

The Pacific sanddab, Citharichthys sordidus, also known as the mottled sanddab and soft flounder is left-eyed. The "eyed side (is) dull light brown, mottled with brown or black, and sometimes yellow or orange. Blind sde off-white to tan. Body elongate to oval with long scales. Caudal fin only slightly rounded." (Kramer et al: p. 14)

In size it reaches up to 41 cm. (16 inches), and weighs up to two pounds, but most weigh less than a half pound. It is "common in coastal waters from British Columbia to California. It is considered an excellent food fish. (Kramer et al: p. 14)

As to the motive behind creating this image, it would, of course, depend greatly on the identity of the flatfish portrayed, but if the identification of it as a Pacific Sanddab is correct, I imagine that the motive or meaning refers to someone portraying a favorite food rather than a memorable catch or an important clan symbol. In any case, I enjoyed seeing it and speculating, and isn't that what much of our interest in rock art is all about?

NOTE: An image in this posting was retrieved from the internet during a search for public domain photographs. If this image is not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them.

REFERENCE:

Kramer, Donald E., William H. Barss, Brian C. Paust, and Barry E. Bracken
2008 Guide to Northeast Pacific Flatfishes, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

www.recfin.org