Amateur archaeology sleuth deciphers messages hidden in Stone Age cave art for 25,000 years
- An amateur archaeologist has decoded what experts describe as "the first known writing in the history of Homo sapiens."
- The inscriptions that Bacon, 67, decoded date back tens of thousands of years.
An amateur archaeologist has decoded what experts describe as "the first known writing in the history of Homo sapiens," according to a paper published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
Ben Bacon, a furniture restorer by day, spent his nights analyzing photographs of cave paintings, according to The Times. His hobby led to the "first specific reading of European Upper Palaeolithic communication," the journal article reads.
The code inscriptions that Bacon, 67, decoded appear in at least 400 caves across Europe which are up to 25,000 years.
The writing was discovered approximately 150 years ago but has perplexed scientists ever since.
However, Bacon deduced that paleolithic hunter-gatherers would store data about the animals they needed to kill to survive in the cave drawings of bulls, horses, aurochs, and stags, using codes to detail their breeding cycle based on the lunar cycle beginning in spring.
For example, a line or a dot would mean months, so four dots or lines would represent the fourth month after the start of spring. Then, a symbol resembling the letter Y was used to mean "to give birth," the journal article says, and the position of the Y amongst the dots or lines would indicate a due date.
Sharing knowledge of their preys' breeding season would have been important information for the Stone Age hunters because it meant that large herds of animals could be forming, said Professor Paul Pettitt of Durham, per The Times.
Bacon told The Times that he believed this discovery had the power to change our understanding of Stone Age communities.
"They've conventionally been thought of as superstitious people who try to use hunting magic to kill animals," he told the newspaper, adding, "The signs are actually a scientific observational database of information that they build up over many years and sometimes decades."
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