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Intriguing Ice-Age art

Stone doodles reveal glimpses of Ice-Age life.

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Published: 22 October 2020 (GMT+10)

Archaeologists have discovered a small stone plaque, broken into ten fragments, with intriguing abstract marks in the British Channel Islands. The stone plaques (made of locally sourced microgranite1) come from an archaeological site at Les Varines, St Saviours in Jersey, just 28 km from northern France.2 Researchers interpreted the marks as depicting mammoths, bison, a horse, and possibly a human face.

Plaquette
Stone engravings (A), interpreted to show: a bovid (ox/bison) (B); a mammoth and a horse (C) (Credit: After Bello, SM et al. figure 9, ref. 1).

Using the uranium-thorium dating method they conventionally dated the plaques to the Upper Palaeolithic, supposedly 20,400-8,400 years BP.3 However, these dates far exceed the Bible’s history, so must be disregarded. Explanations for these and other reports of inflated archaeological ‘ages’ are explained in detail in my article How old? When archaeology conflicts with the Bible.

The ten plaque fragments represent “new evidence” for art from human ancestors.2

The artefacts were brought to the surface by a plough in a farmer’s field. However, the stone surfaces are apparently in a “good state of preservation”,2 which suggests they are younger than supposed.

Similar engraved plaques have been unearthed in Portugal, Spain, France, southern Germany and Belgium. These are attributed to early hunter-gatherers called the Magdalenians, who supposedly flourished between 23,000 and 14,000 years ago.3

According to the new study, the Jersey artwork represents the only evidence for the life-styles of the people who colonised the southern half of the Channel Valley after the glacial maximum.2

Ice-Age flooding

Jersey is a small island, just 9 miles (14 km) wide, so is obviously too small to support herds of mammoths, bison and horses. These must have been seen in the generations before the land was later covered by the ocean.4 During the one Ice Age which followed in the centuries after Noah’s Flood,5 sea-levels are believed to have been 80–100m lower than today. That means the English Channel and the southern part of the North Sea were actually habitable land. Many mammoth bones have been recovered which demonstrate this fact. The Channel is now thought to have been carved catastrophically in months. Chalk at the Dover strait (joining England to France) was broken through, according to New Scientist, 200,000–450,000 years ago, by an overflowing dam behind the chalk ridge (Weald-Artois ridge).6

But how could mammoths, bison and horses have been seen thousands of years after the land on which they lived was submerged? Obviously, the dates are wrong. The eye-witness testimony on stone is consistent with that fact.

Conclusion

The best explanation for these interesting new finds is that descendants of those travelling from Babel (c. 2000 BC) settled in the English Channel, before the end of the Ice Age. They witnessed the animals living in the area, and recorded them on rock. After this, Britain was separated catastrophically from the European mainland when the Ice Age ended. The animal doodles demonstrate the artists were capable of abstract thought. They are not nearly of the same quality or artisanship as some other ancient artwork, notably, animal drawings found in the Lascaux and Chauvet caves in France. However, they are still clearly the work of people, created intelligent and resourceful from the beginning, because they were made in the image of God.

References and notes

  1. As the name suggests, an igneous rock with smaller crystals (of feldspar, quartz and mica) than a typical granite. Return to text.
  2. Jersey is one of the UK’s Channel Islands, near the north French coastline. Return to text.
  3. Bello, S.M. et al., Artists on the edge of the world: An integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands), PLoS ONE 15(8):e0236875, 19August 2020 | doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236875. Return to text.
  4. Metcalfe, T., Britain’s oldest artwork may depict mammoths from a drowned land, livescience.com, 27 August 2020. Return to text.
  5. What secular scientists mistakenly believe to be the last of numerous ice ages. Return to text.
  6. Paul, M., Megaflood carved the English Channel, New Scientist 195(2613):11, 21 July 2007. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

What about the Ice Age?
by Dr Don Batten
US $0.60
Soft Cover
Life in the Great Ice Age
by Michael J Oard, Beverly Oard
US $16.00
Hard Cover

Readers’ comments

John M.
Why do you bother with showing the dating given by researchers when it's never correct? I'm just curious.
Gavin Cox
Thanks for your question, it requires an answer. We need to be able to engage with the data and the interpretation of the data, rather than simply ignore it (i.e. not "bother" as you suggest). We at CMI don't accept the millions and billions of years attributed to rocks and fossils either, but we need to be able to engage with the reasoning behind the dates, and demonstrate why they are wrong. People need to see how the data fits the history of the Bible rather than secular history. It is part of our ministry to always be "prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks..." (I Peter 3:15). The Greek word used for defence is ἀπολογία apología (from apó, "from" and lógos, "intelligent reasoning") – properly, a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised (Strongs 627).
It is when Christians fail to offer an 'apologoia' for the faith, is when they become irrelevant in the eyes of those who don't trust the Bible. We need to demonstrate why faith in the Bible is correct, compared to the thinking of those who reject the testimony of Scripture. If we can trust the Bible's history of the Earth, we can trust the Bible's claims concerning the future of the Earth. If the historical claims of Scripture can be demonstrated to be correct, then the theology based upon that history must be correct also, which includes the moral claims of Scripture, also. Jesus Himself stated "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" So, that's why we "bother", because the eternal destiny of those we are ministering too depends in some part on us taking our responsibility seriously. When we do our part, the Holy Spirit does the rest, to lead people to salvation and trust in Jesus Christ who is both Saviour and Creator.
WR B.
"They are not nearly of the same quality or artisanship as some other ancient artwork, notably, animal drawings found in the Lascaux and Chauvet caves in France. " Rather than saying, "of the same quality or artisanship," you might have said "talent". We are dealing with people who were just as capable of problem solve as I, and had they attended our universities, have been capable of assembling a computer today. In art, they did not have the talent of the Lascaux or Chauvet painters. I may doodle or even sketch, but never compare with Michelangelo's sketches.
Gavin Cox
Indeed, beauty (and talent) is in the eye of the beholder. But the point I made, which is worth repeating, is that the doodles of mammoths and bison represent the ability of the artist for abstract thought, which is a unique trait of humans, who were made in the image of God and intelligent from the beginning. I am sure we can both agree to this.
Col M.
I am a Biblical Creationist and know the "dating " methods are farcical, but surely they can't date the scratches in the rock. Surely their "dates" relate to the cooling of the rock, with the images being added later. This has no relevance to when it ACTUALLY happened, but are they referring to the rock's age or the image's age?
Fascinating to see how much lower the sea levels were in the ice age. Can't blame THAT climate change on cars and coal!
Gavin Cox
Thanks for your question. As you say, the archaeologists wouldn't try to date the scratches in the rock, but rather would date materials that are found in the same layer as the artefact, particularly things like charcoal from camp fires, or animal bones that stored carbon 14 in them when the organisms were still alive. The archaeologists can send off their samples to radio carbon dating labs, which can arrive at a very accurate ratio of (unstable) carbon 14 to (stable) carbon 12 in their samples. The machines the lab technicians use are called Accelerator mass spectrometers (AMS) which can count single atoms in the presence of 1x10*15 (a thousand, million, million) stable atoms! However, to convert that to a date means making a lot of assumptions—the main being that the ratio of historic 14C:12C has not changed (at least in ways they cannot account for). But if in their comparisons they don't take into account the Earth's weakened magnetic field, or the Flood, or even the turn over of carbon during the melting of the Ice Age, they will arrive at figures that are inflated. If you want to read more on the assumptions behind radio carbon dating I can recommend my article How old? When archaeology conflicts with the Bible, and particularly the Answers Book, chapter 4 on carbon dating explains why not taking the Flood, or the Earth's decreasing magnetic field into account will produce inflated ages. Hope that helps.

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