Cave carving dates back 13,000 years

A CAVE carving of a mammoth, thousands of years old, has been unveiled in Cheddar. The 13,000-year-old artwork in Gough's Cave may have been used

A CAVE carving of a mammoth, thousands of years old, has been unveiled in Cheddar.The 13,000-year-old artwork in Gough's Cave may have been used in tribal rituals by cave-dwelling shaman. The carving, which dates back to the Late Upper Palaeolithic period, could possibly have been used in the rituals, which tribesmen performed to ask the animals if it was all right to eat them and ask not to be eaten by them. Shaman claimed to be able to contact the animal spirits and often had secret hide-outs within the cave systems. Carvings and cave paintings were also used to teach young cavemen how to hunt and gather food, using the rock as a primitive blackboard. The discovery was made by Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson from Bristol University, who have spent several years studying the caves and examining the rock for carvings. The duo used Light Emitting Diodes lighting which can pick up the slightest details and show up angles on an irregular surface.Cheddar Caves and Gorge managing director Hugh Cornwell said: "Linda and Graham looked closely at rock faces which had only been glanced at by previous archaeologists. They have come up with some very exciting finds. "Gough's Cave has always been one of Britain's most important prehistoric sites and was inhabited for over 1,000 years by our hunter-gatherer ancestors."Now visitors can admire our mammoth. He's a lovely little chap, a wonderfully spirited carving with enormous tusks."The mammoth can be viewed thanks to a special lighting system with a small display explaining the exhibit. After visiting the beast, visitors to the Somerset attraction can try their hand at cave art. The Cheddar Caves Museum of Prehistory boasts a do-it-yourself cave painting wall to record visitors own hunting or spiritual experiences, but as it is cleaned daily it will not be rediscovered in 13,000 years time.Pictured: Sophie James in the caves.

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