All Posts in Europe

March 1, 2018 - No Comments!

Oldest Paintings in the World now over 65,000 years old

Gallery C of La Pasiega cave in Monte Castillo.

The big news this week in Anthropology is that a species besides humans seems to have painted. Dirk Hoffman and Allistair Pike have published an article in the journal Science that dates the paintings to well over 65,000 years ago. That is 25,000 years older than previously dated art from Spain and Indonesia.

65,000 years ago the only known species that could have made the paintings are Neanderthals. The dates come from three caves widely separated in Spain. This is a stunning development in the world of art history. Hoffman and Pike explain their results in the video below.

You can reach the Science article here.

In this video from National Geographic shot in 2014 Allistair Pike discusses his belief that Neanderthals could have made art.

September 2, 2017 - No Comments!

Limited Edition Chauvet Portfolio to support the Ancient Art Archive

I have selected 12 images for a portfolio of prints to help support the Ancient Art Archive. Each image is limited to 12 prints each. Once they are sold there will be no more. The images are approximately 21" x 33" on 2 x 4-foot paper.

Go here to see all the images and purchase.

I'll be showing six of these prints in Oxford next month as part of a lecture at the
Saïd Oxford Business School on September 13. The talk is free but registration is required. Go here for details.

-Stephen Alvarez

June 9, 2017 - 1 comment.

Dating Rock Art, How Old Is It?

Artists who created the ancient masterpieces that we appreciate today—cave paintings, murals on cliff walls, countless carvings, and other artifacts—left no written records about the worlds in which they lived. This often makes it difficult to know when they lived. Fortunately, modern technology has helped scientists develop several dating methods to accurately date ancient art sites.

Scientists used carbon 14 dating to determine that the charcoal used at Chauvet was over 30,000 years old

Read more

March 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Dating the cave paintings of Spain

Alistair Pike discusses the work he has done with Dirk Hoffmann in dating the cave paintings of Northern Spain in this short video that I shot for National Geographic. The open question that Pike is trying to answer in his research is are all the cave paintings of Europe Human or are some of them Neanderthal?

Its an interesting question. Neanderthals certainly could have produced some art, but there is not overwhelming evidence that they did. Refined dating techniques have pushed the age of the first paintings in Europe back. The oldest paintings are now known to be older than 40,000 years. But by the same token refinements in tracing migration by looking at the human genome indicate that homo sapiens sapiens first entered Europe 55,000 years ago. So the current oldest painting in El Castillo in Spain is well within the date range that modern humans occupied Europe.

Proving that Neanderthals made art will take a very old painting indeed.



January 5, 2016 - No Comments!

Shooting the Lion Panel of Chauvet

The Ancient Art Archive all grows out of a National Geographic Magazine story. I wrote about that experience for the NG Proof blog and I've reproduced that text below. What I couldn't envision at the time is how images can be repurposed. The model above is constructed entirely of images I shot for a panorama of the lion panel. At the time I had not even heard of photogrammetry or even dreamed of building 3 dimensional models.

From the January 5, 2015 NG Proof Blog

At our core, people are visual communicators. Nothing has ever confirmed my faith in that like seeing the ancient art in the cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc in Ardèche, France. Read more