Saturday, August 29, 2009

30k Years Ago...

As you can see from the lonely "History" tag, this has nothing to do with technology. Instead, it is about a 30,000 or so year old bear skull, that some pre-historic person placed on a rock in a cave and left there. And there it sat. For a few years. And a few more. A century. One-thousand years. Another thousand years. Ten thousand years. More! Until we modern humans found it, in Chauvet cave in France. (Click on "Visit the Cave", then in the upper right of the map find the green dot that is "The Chamber of the Skull". Click it.)

This is pretty cool. Why? Don't we find old bones, well, not all the time, but, museums are full of them. Yes. But, usually they are in the ground, surrounded by datable strata, or maybe a tar pit, or, like a mammoth, frozen in ice (or like The Ice Man). Granted the bear skull was underground, in the sense that the cave is under the ground, but it was not in the ground, it was sitting on a rock the entire time. Yes we find rock paintings, but those are painted onto rocks. You can't move them.

Typically when we find things that old they are not just sitting there. King Tut's tomb was amazing because it was fairly, but not completely, undisturbed, and is a little over 3,300 years old (so The Ice Man is about 200 years older). Stonehenge is about 4,500 years old. The Egyptian pyramids, which are also stone structures that have been out in the open, are about the same age. But our little skull friend was already ancient when all of those were built.