September 26, 2022
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Alabama cave’s ancient drawings revealed by digital scan technology

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Imagery of a nearly 11-foot cave drawing of a serpent figure with a round head and diamond-shaped body markings from "19th Unnamed Cave" in Alabama. Revealed etchings superimposed with illustration by Jan Simek.
  • Archaeologists have found the largest grouping of cave art drawings made by Native Americans prior to the arrival of Spanish explorers.
  • Scientists took thousands of high-tech photos to scan the ceiling of the cave in Alabama to create a 3D model.
  • Inspection of the virtual cave ceiling revealed thousands of drawings, including several life-sized images.

Researchers used 3D scanning technology to reveal what they say is the largest collection of cave art drawings ever found in North America.

Among the glyphs discovered on the ceiling of a cave in Alabama is a serpent-shaped figure that measures about 11 feet, scientists reported in research published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Antiquity.

The five examples of Native American cave art documented in the study were the largest found and estimated to be 1,000 to 1,800 years old, said co-author Jan Simek, an archaeologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Tennessee. But the process used to create a photorealistic, virtual 3D model of the cave actually revealed “thousands of additional glyphs and images,” according to a story documenting the research in the Ancient Art Archive.





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