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Lidia Zotkina
Lidia Zotkina

Are These the Oldest Petroglyphs in Siberia?

Lidia Zotkina
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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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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iStock
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Art
The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself
iStock
iStock

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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