October 31, 2017 - No Comments!

We’ve been building a cave

October has been a busy month for the Ancient Art Archive!

We've been working largely behind the scenes on technology and capacity building. We are closing in on the ability to provide immersive, 3D environments. To that end, we built a cave. Or at least part of a virtual one. The model below has the actual sounds recorded from the cave.

The model itself is built with 1200 individual images and represents about 900 feet of passage inside the cave.

We will soon begin working on a site in Georgia with Cherokee Syllabary writing inside. Part of the audio in that cave will be the spoken words.

Stay Tuned!

October 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Deep Time Explained

Time is one of the hardest concepts to wrap your head around. People have been on the earth for about 300,000 years. For almost all of that time, we've been hunter-gatherers. But how long has the Earth been here?

NPR's Skunk Bear does a great job of helping us visualize Earth's history and our place in it.

The video is below and the original post is here.

September 26, 2017 - No Comments!

SCCi Grant

The Ancient Art Archive is happy to announce that we have received a grant from the Southeastern Cave Conservancy to work in one of their cave preserves.

The Archive will work closely with the Cherokee Historic Preservation office to build detailed 3-dimensional models of a Cherokee Syllabary site in the southeast.

Our hope is that the material will serve as the basis for educational and archival material that can be useful to both the Cherokee and landowner.

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

August 14, 2017 - No Comments!

September 12 talk in London

LISTEN TO HUMANITY'S OLDEST STORIES

Countless tales are hidden in our ancestors' oldest caves. National Geographic Explorer & Photographer Stephen Alvarez is hosting a one-day talk and photo exhibit, and would like you to join him on a journey back in time to our ancestor’s prehistoric lives.

"A Private Audience & Photo Exhibition by Stephen Alvarez"

Date: 12th Sept 2017, 6.30pm

Venue: Zuleika Gallery 3rd Floor, 6 Mason’s Yard, St James’s, London SW1Y 6BU

Tickets: here, proceeds benefit the Ancient Art Archive.

August 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Ancient Art in the Game of Thrones

In a scene that could almost have come out of an Ancient Art Archive presentation, Jon and Daenerys view ancient art in a cave.

"They  were right here, standing where we are standing..."

The art bit starts around 2:40.

Now to my eye, those engravings look a little too fresh to be ancient, and Jon Snow's motives might not make him the most objective observer. If I were Daenerys I wouldn't assume that they were genuinely old until the Uranium / Thorium or Carbon 14 dates came back and were peer reviewed.

August 9, 2017 - No Comments!

NASA algorithm helps us see faded art

Hundreds, thousands of years exposed to the elements often leave ancient art hard to see. Famous sites like Chauvet, Altamira and the Great Gallery are well preserved but some important rock and cave art sites are weathered almost beyond recognition. How do we see rock art that is mostly weathered away? Mathematics, NASA and rock art enthusiast Jon Harman have a solution. It is an image analytic program Harman developed called DStretch.

Barrier Canyon Style Petroglyphs in a side canyon of Ferron Creek. Emery County, Utah. See what it looks like after DStretch on the next page.

The program uses a method called decorrelation stretch, which was originally used by NASA to improve remote sensing images of Mars. DStretch takes the NASA algorithm but optimizes it for rock art. The program analyzes photographs of rock art sites, and then shifts the images’ color to highlight designs and patterns that have faded away or otherwise become invisible to the naked eye by providing more contrast within the image. The program is especially useful when it comes to faded colors, particularly reds, yellows, blacks, and whites, but it is also works on etchings and other rock art forms. The results are a false color image that is often much more detailed than the original.

 

Read more

July 13, 2017 - No Comments!

DNA is reshaping our view of ourselves

The story of human migration from Africa into the rest of the world is the original story of exploration. Those first people who walked out of Africa and into the vast unpopulated world told their story of exploration on rock and cave walls as they went. The timeline for that tale has been refined by looking at the DNA our ancestors left behind (more on that in another post). But that same DNA is also showing that the human migration is not as straightforward as we once believed.

Prevailing evidence is that modern humans expanded out from Africa between 70,000 and 50,000 BP. Our ancestors encountered and replaced dwindling Neanderthal populations in Europe.

However, some Neanderthal lives on in us. With the exception of native Africans, most people have up to 2% Neanderthal DNA.

That story got a bit more muddled this month. A study published in Nature Communications -summarized nicely in the NYT here- suggests that there was a "flow" of genetic material into Neanderthal populations from Africa before 100,000 years ago. That means that humans, or something very similar to us, entered Europe and interbred with Neanderthals leaving a slight genetic trace in Neaderthal DNA.

-Stephen Alvarez



July 7, 2017 - No Comments!

Ancient Art Archive on Instagram!

The Ancient Art Archive launched and Instagram account! Humanity's newest social media platform seemed like the perfect place to Explore the Humanity's oldest stories. In the feed, we post images and videos from the Archive and also pictures from the field.

It is a great addition to our Facebook page. The stories we are recording on rock and cave walls around the planet are Humanity's first social media. These new platforms bring our first stories to a new audience.

Read more