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'Cave of forgotten dreams' may hold earliest painting of volcanic eruption

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posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 03:18 PM
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If you've ever asked "if a tree falls in a forest and there is no one to hear it, does it still make a sound" and subsequently also asked "does a volcano still erupt if no one is there to witness it?" then rest your weary eyes for we may have a visual confirmation of an erupting volcano 36,000 years ago.


Spray-shaped drawings in an inner gallery of the Chauvet cave may depict a volcanic eruption. Left: general view; right: traced detail, with an overlaid charcoal painting of a giant deer species removed (lower right).



Mysterious paintings in one of the world’s most famous caves could mark the oldest-known depiction of a volcanic eruption. Spray-shaped images in Chauvet cave in France were painted at around the same time as nearby volcanoes spewed lava high into the sky, reports a paper published this month in PLoS ONE.


This is a terrific find, not because it proves volcanoes erupted way back when, but because of what we can imagine our great ancestors thinking and experiencing and feeling when such a powerful natural force commences.




Chauvet-Pont D'Arc cave, in southern France, is one of the world’s oldest and most impressive cave-art sites. Discovered in 1994 and popularized in the Werner Herzog documentary 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams', Chauvet contains hundreds of paintings that were made as early as 37,000 years ago.

Fearsome animals such as woolly rhinoceroses, cave lions and bears dominate Chauvet’s imagery. But one of its innermost galleries — named after a giant deer species, Megaloceros, that is depicted there — also contains a series of mysterious spray-shaped drawings, partly covered by the Megaloceros painting. A nearby gallery holds similar spray imagery, as does a wall near the cave’s original entrance, but researchers have not determined what the images represent.

The depictions are unique to Chauvet, notes Sebastien Nomade, a geoscientist at the University of Paris-Saclay in Gif-Sur-Yvette, France, who led the study. The Bas-Vivarais volcanic field, a well-known site containing more than a dozen extinct volcanoes, lies just 35 kilometres from the cave, but only eruptions that happened before humans occupied Chauvet had been dated, Nomade says.

Source
edit on 17/1/16 by Ghost147 because: fixed link


To put the top image in perspective, this is what a ‘strombolian’ eruption (in Java, Indonesia) looks like:


edit on 17/1/16 by Ghost147 because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 03:23 PM
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Maybe a little off topic, but isn't it interesting how so many of the paintings in these caves overlap. It mentions how the deer partially covers the volcano. Sure, that could be like graffiti or something, but maybe it says something more about the way those people thought and saw the world.



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 03:31 PM
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originally posted by: Mr Headshot
Maybe a little off topic, but isn't it interesting how so many of the paintings in these caves overlap. It mentions how the deer partially covers the volcano. Sure, that could be like graffiti or something, but maybe it says something more about the way those people thought and saw the world.


One of the theories about that issue suggests the spot on the cave wall was considered magical. A shaman would draw a picture of a deer, for example, in hopes of luring the deer so that the hunters could kill it. If one of the drawings scored a hit, that would increase the chances of the same spot being used again in hopes of another successful hunt.

Of course, that amounts to speculation. What if future archaeologists excavating major cities came to the same conclusions about the graffiti found there?



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 03:33 PM
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originally posted by: Mr Headshot
Maybe a little off topic, but isn't it interesting how so many of the paintings in these caves overlap. It mentions how the deer partially covers the volcano. Sure, that could be like graffiti or something, but maybe it says something more about the way those people thought and saw the world.


What it indicates to me, is that the second picture was put on in poor lighting



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 03:34 PM
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a reply to: Ghost147

I think that's a massive stretch. The image looks more like a stylised marine bird taking flight: heron, stork etc. Lots of Rorschach and interpretation there. Why, I wonder, would our ancestors overlook the red/orange/yellow ochres and choose white to depict such a colourful event or events?

If it was a depiction of an erupting volcano, would that be a mountain peak in the background? Are there mountains in the area that dominate the skyline above local calderas? Worth a look.

Tenerife's Mount Teide looks down on a caldera so it's not unknown.



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 03:43 PM
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originally posted by: Kandinsky
a reply to: Ghost147

I think that's a massive stretch. The image looks more like a stylised marine bird taking flight: heron, stork etc. Lots of Rorschach and interpretation there. Why, I wonder, would our ancestors overlook the red/orange/yellow ochres and choose white to depict such a colourful event or events?

If it was a depiction of an erupting volcano, would that be a mountain peak in the background? Are there mountains in the area that dominate the skyline above local calderas? Worth a look.

Tenerife's Mount Teide looks down on a caldera so it's not unknown.


I would say that if the researchers were claiming that this most definitely is a depiction of a volcano, then your comment would be very accurate.

However, they do not claim this with certainty, rather they simply state that a volcano (visible from the mouth of the cave) erupted in a way that correlates to the images found in the cave, and is dated at the same time the painting was made.

Here's an abstract from the scientific article itself:




Among the paintings and engravings found in the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave (Ardèche, France), several peculiar spray-shape signs have been previously described in the Megaloceros Gallery. Here we document the occurrence of strombolian volcanic activity located 35 km northwest of the cave, and visible from the hills above the cave entrance. The volcanic eruptions were dated, using 40Ar/39Ar, between 29 ± 10 ka and 35 ± 8 ka (2σ), which overlaps with the 14C AMS and thermoluminescence ages of the first Aurignacian occupations of the cave in the Megaloceros Gallery. Our work provides the first evidence of an intense volcanic activity between 40 and 30 ka in the Bas-Vivarais region, and it is very likely that Humans living in the Ardèche river area witnessed one or several eruptions. We propose that the spray-shape signs found in the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave could be the oldest known depiction of a volcanic eruption, predating by more than 34 ka the description by Pliny the Younger of the Vesuvius eruption (AD 79) and by 28 ka the Çatalhöyük mural discovered in central Turkey.

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edit on 17/1/16 by Ghost147 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 04:27 PM
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a reply to: Ghost147

I read the links before posting and thought they were stretching. Still do.

Not ruling the idea out hence the suggestion of comparing peaks. No dispute that people back then saw volcanoes.

It's late and I'm too tired to show enthusiasm. It's a good article



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 05:11 PM
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Whether representative of a volcano or not (I'm skeptical of that, but it can't be ruled out,) what I'm impressed and fascinated by either way is how clear, purposeful, and expressive the lines are. Whether it's a volcano, a bird, or something else, it's amazing how intuitively artistic human beings were even then.

Peace.



posted on Jan, 17 2016 @ 06:38 PM
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originally posted by: Kandinsky

If it was a depiction of an erupting volcano, would that be a mountain peak in the background? Are there mountains in the area that dominate the skyline above local calderas? Worth a look.


Looking closely at the painting, the "peak" you see could be the back of another animal. It seems to continue toward the left under the "spray."

Harte



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:03 AM
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I wish I could paint in a cave that may be viewed 37,000 years into the future. I live reading things like this, it inspires me to paint more. Thanks for posting this!!!



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:37 AM
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I'm glad to see some open minds regarding potential rock art. There's so much out there to see yet it's not "seen." Much of what is brought to the attention of folks is quickly thrown into the category of paradolia. Talking about an easy "out!" In their defense, it's no wonder most people of today don't see what a few do...look at the big gap on the timeline! Being so far culturally removed, we cannot expect to be capable of easily identifying and understanding art that was created by ancient peoples. Regarding the layered imagery, I think it may be for efficiency. That is, the convenience of putting more information in one location. Cool to read about this and see the pics. Thanks for posting.



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 07:13 AM
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a reply to: AceWombat04

They are really awesome, aren't they. I also wonder why those kind of paintings are styled in the same fashion. Large animals with skinny legs, found on many locations. Is there a reason why many cave-artists would have the same artistic way of drawing animals? And why not draw them as they are?
edit on 18-1-2016 by snewpers because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:26 AM
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originally posted by: snewpers
a reply to: AceWombat04

They are really awesome, aren't they. I also wonder why those kind of paintings are styled in the same fashion. Large animals with skinny legs, found on many locations. Is there a reason why many cave-artists would have the same artistic way of drawing animals? And why not draw them as they are?


The usual claim is that the art is drawn by shamans, who are attempting to use magic to ensure that the animals they are hunting are killed easily. If that's the case, perhaps drawing them with stick legs is supposed to stop the animals from running away.

edit on 18-1-2016 by Marduk because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 19 2016 @ 03:01 AM
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a reply to: Marduk

Hahahaha that would be one explanation that would work.




posted on Jan, 19 2016 @ 08:34 AM
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If it's a volcano, then it shouldn't be too crazy a task to figure out some good guesses at which volcano where and when.

If the nearest volcano that could match is too far away or the overlap in datable range is weak, then it probably wasn't a picture of an erupting volcano made by an artist who witnessed it firsthand. If you find a match but it was half way around the world, then you'd be suggesting that somehow, the artist traveled half way around the world in their lifetime. It's not impossible, but it'd be extraordinary.

I mean, they're volcanoes. They don't exactly sneak around and hide. I guess the closest thing to that would be the eruptions of volcanoes that are now under the ocean, like Bowie Sea Mount in the Pacific North West...but then again, there probably just aren't any hidden/unknown volcanoes with eruptions that recent in that part of the world. Anyways, any remaining unknown volcanoes are probably really old and/or remotely located.

I think even Greenland is accounted for...but maybe not down to the level of every specific eruption? And eruptions would usually show up in the geological record somewhere 'down wind' so even when they haven't matched it to the specific volcano it came from, it'd be known to have occurred and when.
edit on 19-1-2016 by 11andrew34 because: added...



posted on Jan, 19 2016 @ 02:35 PM
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a reply to: Ghost147

I'm not very convinced by this. I'd think that if it was a volcanic eruption, we'd see it associated with the mountain in the background.

My own guess would be that the pigment is either accidental OR is covering up another painting.



posted on Jan, 19 2016 @ 02:38 PM
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originally posted by: snewpers
a reply to: AceWombat04

They are really awesome, aren't they. I also wonder why those kind of paintings are styled in the same fashion. Large animals with skinny legs, found on many locations. Is there a reason why many cave-artists would have the same artistic way of drawing animals? And why not draw them as they are?


If you're an artist (or have one handy), grab a stick of burned wood (don't use commercial charcoal pencils or vine charcoal) and try to draw on a rough rock wall surface. As a medium, it's rather challenging and is usually much easier to go representational than accurate.

Plus... the number of folks who can draw something accurately (freehand and from memory) is actually pretty small.



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