Authentic Mammoth Art… The Oldest Art In America

Mammoth on Mammoth bone. Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institute

When scientists began studying the carving of a mammoth on a 13,000-year-old mammoth bone found in Florida, they assumed it was a fake.

But according to research just published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the animal carving is not only legit but it is also America’s earliest art.

A lot of news agencies are hopping on the story. I enjoyed the National Geographic and Discovery News articles.

I like that the bone was found by an amateur fossil hunter (and I’m highly amused that it spent some time collecting dust under his sink).

Scientists led by the Smithsonian’s Robert Jeff Speakman eventually authenticated the piece using some high tech microscopy to show that the carving wasn’t made with modern tools.

    “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.”

The ancient artist certainly made a pretty carving. I think he/she should also get kudos for leading the way on all things meta. You know, mammoth on mammoth.

Author: Sarah Everts

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