Aug 13, 2016
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Engraving of an owl from the Chauvet cave

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Engraving of an owl from the Chauvet cave, France. Photo of a replica of the engraving in the Brno museum Anthropos. Public Domain by HBO via Wikimedia Commons.

On the dating, wikipedia says:

The dates have been a matter of dispute but a study published in 2012 supports placing the art in the Aurignacian period, approximately 32,000–30,000 years BP. As recently as spring 2016, an additional 88 radiocarbon dates indicate two periods of habitation. One from 37,000 to 35,000 years ago and another from 31,000 to 28,000.

While the animals in this cave are anatomically quite accurate, owl-like figures have appeared much later in prehistoric (and historic) art all over the globe. In the context of the cave, I’d say the owl is really an owl. However so abstract are later “owls”, that their identification as such (they have big eyes) seems a matter of preference. The two (sometimes more) big prominent circular features (call them eyes, ears, goggles, you name it) have captured the interest of countless cultures across the ages:


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< 10,000 BCE · Gaul · Illustration · Petroglyph

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