Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context
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Cave art is a subject of perennial interest among archaeologists. Until recently it was assumed that it was largely restricted to southern France and northern Iberia, although in recent years new discoveries have demonstrated that it originally had a much wider distribution. The discovery in 2003 of the UK's first examples of cave art, in two caves at Creswell Crags on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border, was the most surprising illustration of this. The discoverers (the editors of the book) brought together in 2004 a number of Palaeolithic archaeologists and rock art specialists from across the world to study the Creswell art and debate its significance, and its similarities and contrasts with contemporary Late Pleistocene ("Ice Age") art on the Continent. This comprehensively illustrated book presents the Creswell art itself, the archaeology of the caves and the region, and the wider context of the Upper Palaeolithic era in Britain, as well as a number of up-to-date studies of Palaeolithic cave art in Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy which serve to contextualize the British examples.
These are a little like islets on a new available surface (Figure 9. 10). These ‘fragments’ are the only evidence of the ancient decorated wall, which has largely disappeared. They are surrounded by grainy surfaces that appeared later, after the superficial disintegration of the old decorated wall. The grainy surfaces were also engraved afterwards, but differently. The new lines never look like those found on the ‘fragments’. The incisions (on the ‘islets’) are remarkably precise and fine (when seen through a binocular magnifying glass).
6. Church Hole Panel IV, engraving/low relief of bird of the cave. The beak, which curves downwards, stands out clearly, and was made with a low bas-relief; it ends in a point at the distal extremity, growing broader as it approaches the head. The whole surface in the immediate vicinity was clearly worked to make the beak stand out. In the depiction of the bird, in addition to the bill one can make out the engraved globular head, inside which can be seen the circular ‘Creswell eye’. Then there extends the slightly oblique neck, engraved and in slight bas-relief with lines coming together in the lower part.
The Xint artefacts traced from Church Hole are fewer than half of those listed by Dawkins (1877: 604). It has to be assumed that the missing component consisted largely of what he described as ‘splinters’—in other words, the smaller and more irregular debitage. The Middle Palaeolithic All told, there are probably thirty-two late Middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) artefacts from Church Hole. The comments which need to be made on the quartzite component (Table 7. 2) are neither numerous nor lengthy. Table 7.
This reflection also applies to the way in which several other triangles were drawn (cf. ‘A peculiar way to draw a triangle’, below). Above there is an engraving whose very fine lines seem to contain the depiction of an aurochs head with a single horn (13g). 166 Yves Martin Fig. 9. 23. Unusual association of a sign of Lalinde/Go¨nnersdorf type with three triangular signs Above that there is a particularly original association of signs (Figure 9. 23), a sign derived from female outlines (Martin 2001, 2004) depicted in profile (8g), and three triangular signs (6g–7g–9g), two to its left and one to its right.
They should certainly be regarded as developmental, and not routine, chemistry. Inaccuracies in dating may go undetected or may be in obvious conXict with the stylistic interpretation or the archaeology in the immediate vicinity. In the case of conXict it would be a circular argument to rely entirely on the stylistic attribution of a date over absolute dating methods, but nor should we ignore stylistic interpretation simply because we have absolute dating methods. The rock art at Creswell takes the form of engravings directly into the limestone bed-rock, and there is a lack of datable pigment that one might obtain from painted panels.