A massive block of limestone in France contains what scientists believe are the earliest known engravings of wall art dating back some 37,000 years, according to a study published Monday.
The 1.5-metric-ton ceiling piece was first discovered in 2007 at Abri Castanet, a well known archaeological site in southwestern France that holds some of the earliest forms of artwork, beads and pierced shells.
According to New York University anthropology professor Randall White, lead author of the paper in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” the art was likely meant to adorn the interior of a shelter for reindeer hunters.
“They decorated the places where they were living, where they were doing all their daily activities,” White told AFP. “There is a whole question about how and why, and why here in this place at this particular time you begin to see people spending so much time and energy and imagination on the graphics.”