Oldest cave art discovered in U.S. shows prehistoric southern living

tags: Discovery News, cave art, cave paintings, Tennessee, Native American history



The oldest and most widespread collection of prehistoric cave and rock art in the United States has been found in and around Tennessee, according to a new paper in the journal Antiquity that documents the art. It provides intriguing clues about what life was like for Native American societies more than 6,000 years ago. That is the age of the newly discovered cave art, one of which is seen here, showing what appears to be a human hunting. Other images are of a more direct spiritual/mythological nature.

Lead author Jan Simek, president emeritus and a distinguished professor of science at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Anthropology, told Discovery News, “The discoveries tell us that prehistoric peoples in the Cumberland Plateau used this rather distinctive upland environment for a variety of purposes and that religion was part of that broader sense of place.” Jan Simek, Alan Cressler, Nicholas Herrmann and Sarah Sherwood/Antiquity Publications Ltd.

A very large polychrome pictograph depicts humans, serpents and circles. The image, from the same overall site, but extending into Alabama, likely illustrated a myth spread across generations via word of mouth, with such permanent imagery further preserving its meaning, lost to history....



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