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Dunbar Cave

Prehistoric drawings found at Dunbar Cave.
People will get the first glimpse of a "great treasure of North America" beginning today.

A ceremony today at Dunbar Cave will mark the announcement and public display of more than 30 prehistoric cave drawings and etchings inside Dunbar Cave at Dunbar Cave State Park and Natural Area.
The rare pictographs were first discovered by chance in January 2005 and have been analysed by Jan Simek, professor of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, who will make a presentation about his findings today.
While there are 53 caves with documented prehistoric finds and all of them are fragile most are on private property and unavailable for public viewing.

"This is in a cave already owned by the state. This is the first one that we can show to the public. It's a great thing. It will have economic impact this will bring tourists to Clarksville" - Jan Simek.

The pictographs and etchings are from the Mississippian Era, which spanned 700 to 1300 AD in North America, Simek said. The pictographs themselves cannot be carbon dated without destroying the art, but remnants of cane torches once used to light the way in the cave date the pictographs at about 1260 AD.

"The potential of the archaeology in this cave is astounding" - Jan Simek.

The pictographs display religious symbols that include stars, circles, crosses, a swastika and in one place a figure of a Mississippian supernatural warrior. They are arranged in compositions and were left unannounced to the general public for more than a year while a more secure gate was added to the cave mouth.
The first drawings found are not far down the walkway into the cool, damp cave. They could have been reached by crawling with a torch through a canal.


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