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Ötzi, Underwater Caves, and Cannibals

There is a cave near Marseilles in France that can only be entered by an underwater tunnel 40 metres below the surface of the sea. Although the cave itself was discovered by deep-sea diver Henri Consquer (and subsequently known as the Cosquer Cave) it wasn’t until 1991 that he found in there some of the oldest art in the world, dating back an almost unimaginable 25,000 thousand years.

Even more astonishing is the fact that on the walls of these caves are hand stencils, where some ancient artist drew around the outline of his (or her) hand, just like children do today to entertain themselves. There are also around 125 animal pictures depicting horses, ibex, chamois, bison, wild ox, and red deer, as well as a number of highly unusual images of marine life, such as seals, auks, penguins, jellyfish and squid. Take a look by clicking on this link:

Or even better just type ‘Cosquer Cave Paintings’ into Google Images – the results are truly amazing.

And 1991 was a really good year for archaeologists for another reason, because this was the year that hikers in the Austrian Alps discovered a body emerging from the melt water of a glacier, aka Ötzi the Iceman, who died around 5,300 years ago. His body, clothes, boots and weapons were astonishingly intact, as were his stomach contents, although no one has yet explained the meanings of the tattoos upon his skin.

Other notable events for 1991 were that Liz Taylor got married for the seventh time, Jeffrey Dahmer pled guilty to seventeen counts of murder and cannibalism, and Hitoshi Igarashi (the Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses) was murdered by being repeatedly stabbed in the face and arms at his University office, assailant unknown, but suspected of being an Iranian Shiite Muslim carrying out the fatwa.

It is also two hundred years since Mozart died, and two hundred years since the first of the twenty one volumes of the Old Statistical Account of Scotland was published;

One hundred years since the death of Herman Melville, and since the invention of the zip.

There was also the little matter of the Persian Gulf War (aka Desert Storm), when American-led forces turfed Saddam Hussein’s invading troops out of Kuwait, who, on their retreat, set fire to almost five hundred Kuwaiti oil fields that would remain burning for another 9 months before finally being extinguished.

All that oil gone to waste!

Not that anyone cared, surely, for wasn’t this war all to do with maintaining the sovereignty of the state of Kuwait, and nothing at all to do with who got any of its lovely oil?

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