Thursday, June 20, 2013

WPLN Reports About Ancient People Who Defaced Our Caves

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 5:06 AM

Scorpion or crawdad?
  • Scorpion or crawdad?
WPLN has a really cool story about how archaeologists believe they have found the oldest American cave art to date here in Tennessee:

Anthropologists now say some prehistoric cave art in Tennessee was made roughly six thousand years ago. That makes it the oldest yet found in America.

The findings are published in this month’s issue of the journal Antiquity. A team, lead by University of Tennessee professor Jan Simek, says prehistoric Tennesseans made ceremonial drawings as early as the Middle Archaic Period, which began in 3788 BC.

They link to some images hosted over at Discovery. But the images brought up a question I've often wondered about. Some things are pretty clear — like the dogs on WPLN's story are clearly dogs. But check out the photo to the right here.

The caption over at Discovery identifies this as a scorpion, and there is a scorpion that i native to Tennessee. But I think if you asked Tennesseans what Tennessee-dwelling animal that was, most of them would guess crawdad long before they guessed scorpion. So, I wonder, how do archaeologists decide on what an ambiguous cave-thingy is? How do they know this is a scorpion rather than a crawdad?

Anyway, crawdad or scorpion, it's really nifty to see this rare artwork and know that our graffiti artists are carrying on a 6,000-year-old tradition.

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