By| January 30, 2017 03:16pm ET
In the summer of 2012, a group of archaeologists turned over a broken block of limestone on the floor of a rock shelter in southwestern France and discovered what could be one of the oldest examples of art in Europe.
Scrawled with the image of an aurochs (an extinct species of cattle) and dozens of small dots, the slab was created by the Aurignacians, the first Homo sapiens to arrive in Europe. Radiocarbon tests showed that the engraving dates back to about 38,000 years ago, according to a Jan. 24 report in the journal Quaternary International.
New York University anthropologist Randall White, a co-author of the study who led recent excavations at the rock shelter, said that the discovery “sheds new light on regional patterning of art and ornamentation across Europe” at a time when humans were just starting to spread across the continent. [Gallery: Photos of Europe’s Oldest Rock Art]
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