An article by Tasos Kokkinidis on greekreporter.com - 11,000-Year-Old Greek Cave Art Found on Crete - reports on the earliest Greek cave art depicting extinct animals believed to be at least 11,000 years old that has been discovered on Crete.
The art was found in the small Asphendou Cave located near the village of Asphendou in the province of Sfakia, which is kept locked.
Speaking recently to the Journal of Archaeological Science Dr Thomas Strasser of Providence College, Rhode Island explained that this is the first Paleolithic art ever found in Greece and it’s significant because it deepens the history of art there by many thousands of years. Archaeological and paleontological information, as well as new technologies unavailable to earlier scholars, offer evidence to confirm a Paleolithic date for the earliest carvings.
Asphendou Cave has been known for its petroglyphs, described by Strasser as a confusing jumble of engravings (that had eluded dating) caused because several layers of engraving were superimposed on one another. Initially, it was believed that the animal depictions were feral goats and possibly as late as the Bronze Age. However, archaeologists exposed the oldest layers, now showing a species of recently identified fossil dwarf deer named Candiacervus ropalophorus, which became extinct more than 11,000 years ago. The species has unusually long antlers with short lateral tines, and specimens found not far north of Asphendou in caves on the north coast of Crete date to between 21,500 and 11,000 years ago.
The 37 deer engravings identified at Asphendou are shallow and small — about 5cm long - and represent a Paleolithic animal herd without ground line or background. Another Paleolithic artistic convention includes showing both antlers as though in three-quarter view, while the body is in profile. Comment