Oldest American Art Found on Mammoth Bone

The Americas’ earliest known artist was an Ice Age hunter in what is now Florida, a new study confirms.

The carved bone, which depicts a walking mammoth, was found near Vero Beach in east-central Florida in 2006 or 2007. Since its discovery, scientists have been working to determine the authenticity of the 13,000-year-old artifact. Now, several experiments reveal the etching is indeed ancient, scientists reported recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

“This is an incredibly exciting discovery,” study co-author Dennis Stanford, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said in a statement.

“There are hundreds of depictions of proboscideans [the order of animals with trunks] on cave walls and carved into bones in Europe, but none from America—until now.”

Since the carving does not really look like any of the mammoth incisings and cave art that come from Europe, “it could be the people were here doing their own art, and may have had a memory of art in the Old World,” speculated study leader Barbara Purdy, a professor emerita at the University of Florida.

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