Children's art 'throughout caves'
Published 30/09/2011 | 00:11
Archaeologists have uncovered cave art providing evidence that hunter-gatherer children may have attended a form of prehistoric pre-school.
Researchers at Cambridge University have revealed that 13,000 years before CBeebies, children were creating art in caves alongside their parents.
A conference on the Archaeology of Childhood at the university will reveal the latest research into art made by young children in one of the most famous prehistoric decorated caves in France - the complex of caverns at Rouffignac, also known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths.
Stunning drawings of mammoths, rhinoceros and horses represent just a small proportion of the art to be found within the 8km cave system.
Also evident are thousands of lines - a simple form of art or decoration known as finger flutings - made by people running their hands down the soft surfaces of the walls and roofs of the many galleries and passages that make up the complex.
Archaeologist Jess Cooney said: "Flutings made by children appear in every chamber throughout the caves even those that are a good 45 minutes' walk from the entrance - so far, we haven't found anywhere that adults fluted without children.
"Some of the children's flutings are high up on the walls and on the ceilings, so they must have been held up to make them or have been sitting on someone's shoulders.
"We have found marks by children aged between three and seven-years-old - and we have been able to identify four individual children by matching up their marks."
The flutings also raise questions over age identity - whether children were seen as we are now - and apparent gender equality.
Cooney said: "The most prolific of the children who made flutings was aged around five - and we are almost certain the child in question was a girl."