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By scratching through the varnish and revealing the lighter colored underlying rock, it was possible to create bold images.

Many of the rock outcrops bearing Neolithic images never developed dark desert varnish at all.

Sometimes the proximity of a campsite or settlement that is dated directly by absolute dating methods is considered helpful for determining the age of an apparently associated petroglyph panel, but caution must be exercised, since it does not always mean that the site’s inhabitants were the artists who created the art.

Often there are multiple sites of varying ages nearby and the petroglyph itself may be a palimpsest of images created through the ages.

Compared to subsequent periods, the older Holocene Wet Phase Neolithic images usually have a patina that formed after the art and is evenly dispersed over both the images and the background.

Later petroglyph artists took advantage of desert varnish, a dark, often shiny glaze that forms on rock surfaces in very arid environments.

The uniformly light color of the sandstone surfaces explains why the Neolithic artists had to incise or peck the images deeply into the rock: so that sunlight raking across them would cast shadows demarcating the outlines of the figures.

The most common Neolithic scenes are of hunter-herders with bows and arrows and throwing sticks, which are similar to a boomerang.

The term refers to the fact that an approximate date can be inferred by comparison with something else of known age.

On rare occasion, archaeological deposits can accumulate up against a petroglyph panel, concealing part or all of the art.

In that case, it may be possible to discern a minimum age for the art because its creation had to precede the archaeological deposit covering it.

The earth at that time was considerably colder and the ice caps were much larger than they currently are.

Many species, such as mammoth and woolly rhinoceros thrived in Eurasia and the mammoth, mastodon, camel and giant sloth lived in North America.

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