Largest North American Cave Art Discovered After 1,000 Years

A team of scientists discovered the largest known Native American cave art that had been hidden in an Alabama cave for more than 1,000 years.

Jan F. Simek, a professor at The University of Tennessee and a team of researchers discovered the massive drawings in 2017 while documenting the cave interior.

The art was nearly invisible due to the tight confines of the cave until the researchers used 3D scans to reveal the works, including one that stretched for 11 feet (3.4 meters).

The largest figure appeared to depict a diamondback rattlesnake, with distinct patterns resembling those of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

According to the study published in Antiquity, the massive glyphs which have been dated to the first millennium AD possibly depict spirits of the underworld from Native American mythology.

“We knew the cave contains pre-contact Native American mud glyphs, and we were carrying out a 3D photogrammetry documentation project to aid with management and conservation,” said Simek.

The first North American cave art which dates from 750 to 800 years ago, was discovered in Tennessee in 1979. 

Since that initial discovery, 89 additional sites have been discovered throughout southeastern North America.


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