Original Publication Date: September 2006
Four paintings that could be 20,000 years old have been discovered on the walls of the cave at the northeastern end of The Park, officials confirmed this month.
Archaeologists and zoologists at The Park’s Institute for the Study of Mammalian Life (ISML) characterized the paintings as a major discovery.
“We believe this find could confirm the autochthonous nature of Animal life in The Park,” said Catriona Cairn-Terrier, chief archaeologist at the Institute.
The four paintings, which depict a Goat, a Donkey, a Lioness, and a bucolic setting, are believed to predate The Park’s oldest cave paintings — the 12,000 year- old paintings in the Grewsome-Grumsack Grotto at the southwestern corner of The Park.
Staff members at the Institute were unable to confirm the existence of a fifth painting, reported to be that of a Dog sprawled out on a rug or mat.
Park officials have sealed off the entrance to the cave for the Winter season. In early Spring, members of the ISML team will conduct radiosputum dating tests, as well as other studies of the paintings.
The paintings were discovered in late September by two Goat kids, Lila and Nardo, aged 7 months, who were playing in the area.
“I butted them out of the house and told them to go and play,” said their mother, Nanette.
“After they came home, they kept bleating about these drawings they saw in the cave. I thought they meant the G-G [Grewsome-Grumsack] cave, so I didn’t think anything of it. But when they told me it was the other cave, I thought I should inform the authorities right away.”
According to ISML staff, the newly-found paintings are of particular interest because they appear to depict an earlier period of life in The Park.
As for the question of who might be responsible for the artwork itself, the Institute says that it cannot offer any definitive answers until it has undertaken further study.
“Some of the strokes appear to be the work of an Elephant, but we really have no idea what Animal might be responsible for these paintings,” said Cairn-Terrier.
This article first appeared in Issue #112 of The Mammalian Daily.