Africa. Riddle of the Coldstream stone

V1911, in the ancient burial cave near the mouth of the river Lottering, South Africa, there is now the Tsitsikamma National Park, was found extraordinary painted stone that became known as the Coldstream. Stone lying at a depth of just over a meter, but his coloring was left virtually untouched in. And the unusual nature of this finding lies in the fact that all other burial stones found in the neighborhood, survived much worse. Riddle of the Coldstream stone is not in his position frost that it represented, and it is marvelous in the preservation of the image.

How could a primitive layer of paint on the stone preserved hundreds, maybe thousands of years in the wet ground and remain relatively unchanged? Is Coldstream stone fake or mysterious natural phenomenon?

The answer is that it does not know nobody.

In 1908, archaeologists were thrilled message that painted burial stones found in the area of the city Knaysna on the east coast of South Africa, may be somehow connected to the mysterious strendlu-perami, a nomadic tribe that lived along the south-east coast of South Africa. Has so far been found only one burial to associate with strendluperami — in another cave near Knaysny in 1872, probably in early 1908, but most of all, in 1909, the excavation SJ Uitche-ra in a cave near the village of Coldstream revealed a few more painted, but the same color stones.

In February 1911. L. Peringvey, then director of the Museum of South Africa, commissioned museum taxidermist James Drury make excavations in the very place where Uitcher found their stones. In his notes, Drury wrote that Uitcher even before his arrival, already bottom of the cave dug to a depth of three meters. Drury continued to dig a trench and vtoy poring yet sixty-five centimeters, found the remains of a skeleton. The skeleton, however, was much spoiled damp earth, and so he decided to resume work in another place, where they could hope to find in the best condition.

Moved into the depths of the cave, he began to dig a second trench. Had broken a depth of about one hundred and twenty centimeters, Drury came upon another skeleton, which was also in "very bad shape" but no burial stones next to it were found. Soon Drury met another skeleton, this time for children, and a little below came the fourth, under a stone, the truth did not have any paintings. Continuing to dig, Drury at the same level found a complete skeleton of an adult and his shoulder — a large flat rock with "the most amazing paintings I've ever seen …"

He found what later became the Coldstream stone. Stone and skeleton exhibited in the Museum of South Africa in Cape Town a few years. When, in the mid-50's, the exposure changed, Coldstream stone hidden in the museum safe for greater safety and virtually forgotten until 1980, when he returned to the museum's collection of utensils department of archeology. Since then, it has attracted a great academic interest. For most researchers mystery was how fragile painting lasted so long in a coastal cave in wet soil. No one could explain the reason for the excellent preservation.

Because the painting is so well preserved, many doubt its authenticity. In 1989, Moscow-Leningrad Wilson and W. van Riyssen of the archaeological department of the Museum of South Africa and D.-A. Gerneke Department of Electron Microscopy University of Cape Town conducted a series of tests to establish the authenticity of Kodtsstrimskogo stone. Comparative analysis of the paint with him and other stones of similar origin and the results of other tests instill the idea that the real paint. Likewise, the style of painting is very similar to the one that was left on the wall paintings and other samples

It remains however the possibility that painting was "touched up" in 1911, an unknown assistant to prolong the preservation of the exhibit, and the fact that his boss, whoever he or she may be, simply forgot to report it, considering not too important or fixed-term record the fact of such restoration. But if all this is the case, then why were not similarly treated, and other more valuable stones?

There is nothing that would cause to assume that the Coldstream stone is not genuine. Maybe the answer to this puzzle was buried with the stone?

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