Is it possible to touch antiquity? Not to the works of ancient sculptors and builders, but to eras long gone?
Living in the modern world, we rarely think about how long ago humans inhabited the Earth. It all began millions of years ago, when the first hominids stood on their hind legs and learned to create primitive tools. The modern age, with its writing, cities and states, is but a blink of an eye compared to the time when a few tribes of our ancestors migrated across the continents.
And they did not live in houses or shacks - there was simply no need to build them: the primitive tribes, engaged in gathering, had to constantly migrate, depending on the seasonal changes. But the rare lucky ones managed to find places where there was an abundance of food all year round and shelter close at hand. We are talking, of course, about caves - natural shelters going tens of meters deep into the rock. These are the most ancient prototypes of human settlements. At times such caves could serve as a home for tribes for thousands of years. During this time, numerous traces left by the ancient people have accumulated in them, and some of them have managed to survive till our days.
One such cave is located in southern Argentina near the Puntaras River. Archaeologists believe that ancient people, descendants of South American Indians, inhabited it for tens of thousands of years. The cave is known worldwide as the "Cave of Hands.
Why it got such a name becomes clear at once when you enter - the walls of the cave are dotted with the prints of the people who lived in it. Our ancestors used natural dyes, which they sprayed over a reclined palm with bone tubes. By the way, just from their remains found at one of the walls, scientists were able to determine the age of the rock art - from 13 000 to 9 000 years.
If a grown man would put his palm to the prints of his distant ancestors, he would be surprised that their palms were much smaller. Such a big difference in physical development between ancient man and modern man? Actually, no - ancient people were physically more advanced than we are, it's just that most of these prints belong to teenagers. Most likely, leaving a drawing of one's palm on the cave wall was a kind of ritual among the tribe members when young men and women entered a certain age.