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Previously it was believed that the earliest paintings were in Europe.

The earliest figurative paintings in Europe date back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 30,000 to 32,000 years ago, and are found in the Chauvet Cave in France, and in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania.

Evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation.

They are also often located in areas of caves that are not easily accessible.

It becomes as though you cannot escape dating this same other circle of friends..a cave that you cannot find an exit to.

The exact purpose of the Paleolithic cave paintings is not known.I asked John Hawks, a biologist at the University of Wisconsin and one of the heads of the Rising Star expedition, to talk me through the various available methods—and why they have been difficult to apply to the latest finds.The technique people are most likely to have heard of is carbon dating.As I reported at the time, scientists extracted 1,550 fossil fragments from the cave, which were then assembled into at least 15 individual skeletons—one of the richest hauls of hominid fossils ever uncovered.But one significant problem clouded the excitement over the discovery: The team doesn’t know how old the fossils are.

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