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‘Sistine Chapel of the Ice Age’ found at Creswell Crags


A team of researchers led by the University of Sheffield and supported by English Heritage have found eighty 13,000-year-old carvings in limestone rock of Church Hole Cave, at Creswell Crags in Nottinghamshire. The carvings are a unique find and form the most elaborate cave art ceiling in the world.

The carvings, which appear on the ceiling of the cave, represent animal figures, including deer, bears, birds and possibly dancing women.

Dr Paul Pettitt, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, led the research. He explains, “This find represents the most richly carved ceiling in the whole of cave art and shows a number of new themes and techniques. It also demonstrates that cave art is spread across a much wider geographical area than we originally thought.”

Dr Paul Bahn, a member of the research team and one of the world’s leading experts on Ice Age art explains, “We saw the figures during sunny mornings, when the cave was illuminated by a brilliant reflected light, which is how I presume they were supposed to be viewed. This type of carving is extremely rare on cave ceilings and is a significant find.”

Jon Humble, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage said, “The people who lived in Creswell Crags some 13,000 years ago have quite literally carved out its place in prehistory, the present and indeed the future.”

Lorna Branton | alfa
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