I love the way science progresses. It changes the face of our scientific knowledge, unashamedly and without embarrassment or missing a beat.

So yesterday’s scientific facts are today’s raucous hoots—but to call today’s facts into doubt is to risk broadsides from hundreds of thousands of justifiably irate scientists. Fair enough—who would I be to break another man’s rice bowl?

So let’s not quibble, let’s just enjoy. Records are being broken and set daily, don’t even try to keep up, I don’t.

But I like to ponder: how long is (say) three thousand years?

Testing the coating of paintings in 11 Spanish caves, researchers found that one is at least 40,800 years old, which is at least 15,000 years older than previously thought. That makes them older than the more famous French cave paintings by thousands of years.

Scientists dated the Spanish cave paintings by measuring the decay of uranium atoms, instead of traditional carbon-dating, according to a report released Thursday by the journal Science. The paintings were first discovered in the 1870s.

The oldest of the paintings is a red sphere from a cave called El Castillo. About 25 outlined handprints in another cave are at least 37,300 years old. Slightly younger paintings include horses.


(but then again, I do boggle easily) at the idea of people covered in blue tatts and smelly old pig skins slithering and sliding and scrabbling waaaaaaay underground to spray paint on the walls (artwork where no-one can see it? I can understand that—The Spouse is an artist). Okay, they did it, unarguably, the works are there indeed, wondrous to behold … but for over three thousand years?

That is indeed dedication for you. My respect to them all, especially the first … who some sources say was a lady, ‘cos many if not most if not all of those handprints (okay, stencils) are considered feminine. Bored housewife syndrome I guess.


goes forward it seems that ‘ancient’ gets pushed ever further backwards. Dammit—is nothing reliable? Perhaps the human instinct to ‘tag’ (spray graffiti) is older than those blasted Egyptian pyramids (the Great of which had no graffiti at all* ).


*  other than a dubious little blob or two tucked away completely out of sight in the so-called ‘relieving chambers’; attributed by some to one Brit Colonel Vyse.

(Some German guys recently lost patience and took direct action, illicitly scraping a couple of bits off and sending them for analysis—something the authorities should have done themselves in the full blast of open publicity, but didn’t. If the results are will ever be concluded or made public is open to conjecture—if the results are controversial just don’t hold your breath waiting …)


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