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Lidia Zotkina

Are These the Oldest Petroglyphs in Siberia?

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Lidia Zotkina

A new analysis of intriguing rock art has archaeologists wondering whether they've found the earliest petroglyphs in Siberia, according to The Siberian Times. First discovered in 1992 on the Ukok Plateau—a remote, high-elevation region of grasslands in the Altai Mountains near Russia's border with China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia—the petroglyphs have gotten a new look this summer by archaeologists from Novosibirsk State University, with assistance from some French colleagues.

The petroglyphs, which depict horses and bison, were carved into glacier-polished rhyolite, a volcanic rock. The wind-swept plateau has little sediment for archaeologists to date, so they looked for help from geomorphologists, who determined when glaciers retreated from the site. They say that could have happened between 8000 and 10,000 years ago. If the rock art is that ancient, it's thousands of years older than any other known rock art in Siberia. 

"We have converging data suggesting that the petroglyphs could be Paleolithic and thus the most ancient known in Siberia," NSU's Lidia Zotkina told the Siberian Times. "When the French archaeologists first arrived on the Ukok Plateau and saw the petroglyphs they said: 'If we had found them somewhere in France, we would not doubt they are Paleolithic, but here, in Siberia, we need to ascertain their age.'"

They're currently testing to see whether the etchings were made by stone or metal tools. Stone tools would indicate an early age, though not necessarily as old as the Paleolithic. Metal tools, however, would firmly place the petroglyphs in a far more modern era. So far, the tests seem to indicate they were made with stone tools.

The Ukok Plateau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is well established as a region that different peoples called home for millennia. Its most famous resident by far is the so-called Ice Maiden (also known as the Princess of Ukok), whose elaborately tattooed skin has made her famous since she was discovered on the plateau in 1993, her remains having been immaculately preserved by the permafrost for more than 2500 years. She is believed to have been a member of the Pazryk people, and probably died at around age 25. 

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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