Aurignacian School of Art

Digs & Discoveries May/June 2017

(Courtesy Musée national de Préhistoire collections, Photo: MNP - Ph. Jugie)

New excavations at Abri Blanchard in southwestern France have uncovered a limestone block engraved with a series of dots and the image of an aurochs, a wild ancestor of modern cattle. Pieces of bone found with the artifact were radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years ago, the period when the Aurignacian people, Europe’s first anatomically modern humans, made the first representational artwork. In addition to the aurochs tablet, the research team reanalyzed 38 engraved limestone blocks that had been found at Abri Blanchard between 1910 and 1912. One of those tablets was decorated with a feline figure that was drawn using the same distinctive technique that an artist used for a painting of a feline at Chauvet Cave, about 200 miles away. While some techniques are shared between such early artistic sites, there are interesting differences, too. Randall White of New York University says, “Each region had its own particular medium of expression: engraving in southwestern France, miniature sculpture in Germany, and deep cave painting in southeastern France.”


Letter from Nigeria

July/August 2024

A West African Kingdom's Roots

Excavations in Benin City reveal a renowned realm’s deep history

Artifacts July/August 2024

Etruscan Oil Lamp

Read Article
Etruscan Hanging Oil Lamp
(Courtesy Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona; © DeA Picture Library/Art Resource, NY)

Around the World July/August 2024


Read Article
(Phillip Parton/ANU)

Digs & Discoveries July/August 2024

Bronze Age Beads Go Abroad

Read Article

Features July/August 2024

The Assyrian Renaissance

Archaeologists return to Nineveh in northern Iraq, one of the ancient world’s grandest imperial capitals

Read Article
(Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project)