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Numerous scientific mysteries have been raised by the cave paintings left by prehistoric humans. The details of who drew what and when can reveal a great deal about the early movement, human history, and our ancestors' lives. Sometimes human characteristics like handprints or hunting activities are captured in cave art. Geometric patterns can occasionally be seen in the paintings or carvings found inside caves. A South American cave in Patagonia that has 895 paintings inside is one of the most fascinating examples of cave art to be studied in the last ten years. The drawings at Cueva Huenul 1 (CH1) in Argentina may be 8,200 years old, according to new carbon dating research that was published in Science. This makes them the oldest known cave art in the area.

For nearly ten years, the drawings in CH1 have been the subject of research. They display 446 unique combinations of single drawings. Other types of prehistoric artwork were found in the cave, including gourds with engravings, decorated animal bones, and beads made from shells. The earliest human settlements at the tip of South America can be seen in all of these works, which date back about 12,000 years. In order to determine the precise age of the drawings, scientists examined charcoal that was discovered in some of them, particularly the black sketches in the shape of "combs" that are common.

Using accelerator mass spectrometry, the organic material's residual carbon was identified. The charcoal could be dated using radiocarbon dating, which is based on the regular timeline of radioactive decay. To ensure accuracy, multiple samples were used. These produced an astounding result: the age of the charcoal was 8,171 years. But not every drawing was made at the same moment. Researchers think the artwork, which features abstract, human, and animal figures, was created by 130 generations of ancient humans.

The paper claims that a "thinly distributed and highly mobile hunter-gatherer population" lived in the area during the time of the earliest rock art. It was an extremely dry climate. The co-author of the paper, Ramiro Barberena, told Hyperallergic that "in our rock art case, the [evidence] from the drylands in South America shows that during the early part of the Mid-Holocene (approximately 10,000 to 7,000 years before the present), populations did not grow and may actually have decreased in size," most likely with "periodic population crashes rather than long-term stability." "Moreover, we assume that these small human groups had to move in wider areas since the sites from the mid-Holocene do not show very intense occupations," the researcher continued.

There is still much to discover about the earliest occupants of Patagonia, even though they left behind a lot for us to study.

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