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America's earliest paleoartist authenticated



From: Ben Creisler
bh480@scn.org

Since paleoart is a frequent topic on the DML, this story might fit. In
this case, it's a paleoartist who worked from a live specimen. Of course,
Europeans can top this any day in terms of paleolithic paintings and
artifacts, but it's neat to learn that this all-American item is real.
(Unlike the "dinosaur" rock art recently debunked as a mud streak....)

This is a link to news story with a photo:
http://io9.com/5814165/the-oldest-art-in-the-americas-depicts-a-13000-year-o
ld-mammoth

Here's the link to the article:

Barbara A. Purdy, Kevin S. Jones, John J. Mecholsky, Gerald Bourne, Richard
C. Hulbert Jr., Bruce J. MacFadden, Krista L. Church, Michael W. Warren,
Thomas F. Jorstad, Dennis J. Stanford, Melvin J. Wachowiak and Robert J.
Speakman (2011) 
Earliest Art in the Americas: Incised Image of a Proboscidean on a
Mineralized Extinct Animal Bone from Vero Beach, Florida.
Journal of Archaeological Science (advance online publication)
doi:10.1016/j.jas.2011.05.022
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440311001828

 
Abstract
A fragmented fossil bone incised with the figure of a proboscidean was
recently found at Vero Beach, Florida near the location where Late
Pleistocene fauna and human bones were recovered from 1913?1916.This
engraving may represent the oldest and only existing example of Terminal
Pleistocene art depicting a proboscidean in the Americas. Because of the
uniqueness, rarity, and potential antiquity of this specimen, caution
demanded that a variety of tests be used in anattempt to verify its
authenticity.The mineralized bone was identified as mammoth, mastodon, or
giant sloth.Rare earth element analysis was consistent with the fossil bone
being ancient and originating at or near the Old Vero site
(8-IR-9).Forensic analysis suggests the markings on the bone are not
recent.Optical microscopy results show no discontinuity in coloration
between the carved grooves and the surrounding material indicating that
both surfaces aged simultaneously.Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
revealed that the edges of the inscription are worn and show no signs of
being incised recently or that the grooves were made with metal tools.In
addition, the backscattered SEM images suggest there is no discontinuity in
the distribution of light and heavy elements between the scribed region and
the surrounding bone indicating that both surfaces aged in the same
environment.This is very different from an intentional mark made on the
bone for comparison.Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDXS) shows that
the surface contains significant amounts of calcium, phosphorus, oxygen,
and carbon typical of a mineralized bone surface.Examination of a cast and
mold of the incised bone by Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) also
provided no evidence that the engraving was made recently.All of these
results are consistent with the mammoth engraving being authentic.



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