Largest US cave figures found in Alabama, about 1000 years old – National & International News – THU 5May2022


Largest US cave figures found in Alabama, about 1000 years old. Woman finds priceless Roman bust in Texas thrift shop. Oil countries gradually open taps as prices rise.




Largest US cave figures found in Alabama, about 1000 years old

A researcher crouches in one of the carved passages of “19th Unnamed Cave” in Alabama.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee have announced the discovery of the largest known figural cave carvings in North America. About 1000 years ago during the Woodland Period, Native American artists painstakingly carved the immense figures, some over 7ft long, into the ceiling of dark passages of a cave in Alabama. The passages stretch for miles underneath the earth.

Some of the figures depict humans in ceremonial dress, carrying rattles or weapons. “They are either people dressed in regalia to look like spirits, or they are spirits,” says professor Jan Simek of UT Knoxville. The sacred nature of these carvings is in keeping with many Native American traditions which regard caves as entrances to the underworld.

The carvings are difficult to see with the naked eye but have become visible thanks to advanced photographic techniques. Researchers have kept the cave’s exact location a secret but say it is in the northern Alabama countryside. “19th Unnamed Cave”, as it is known, is just one of many caves in the region that researchers are studying. Together, the hundreds of carvings in 19th Unnamed Cave comprise the largest set of carvings in any North American cave.

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For more information and pictures of the carvings in this and other nearby caves, click here.


Woman buys priceless Roman bust in Texas thrift shop for $35

A 1st Cent. AD Roman bust, possibly of Caligula’s father Germanicus.

In other antiquities news, an antique dealer discovered a bust of a Roman general sitting on the floor under a table in a Goodwill in Austin, Texas. Laura Young purchased the bust (priced at $34.99) and a Goodwill employee helped her carry it to her car, where she placed it in the back seat and secured it a seatbelt.

It’s unclear when Ms. Young realized the bust was a genuine 2,000-year-old artifact rather than a modern reproduction. But when Ms. Young tried to auction it off, experts at Sotheby’s informed her that the bust was stolen property and thus could not be legally sold. 

Historians believe that an Allied soldier either stole the bust or purchased it from a looter in Germany during the chaos that followed the end of WWII. A New York antiquities lawyer has now arranged the bust’s return to the Pompejanum Museum in Bavaria, Germany.

Most experts believe the bust represents the Roman general Germanicus (15BC-19AD), father of the mad emperor Caligula. Another possibility is a son of Pompey the Great (106-48 BC), who was a rival of Julius Caesar.

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Oil countries gradually open taps as prices rise

The war in Ukraine and sanctions on major oil producer Russia have driven up oil prices globally. Yesterday’s news that the EU is considering a total ban on Russian fossil fuels caused prices to tick up even higher. OPEC, the alliance of global oil producing countries, says it intends to stick with its plan to increase production only gradually, adding 432,000 barrels per day in June.

OPEC has so for refused to bow to the pressures of rising global demand by dramatically increasing production. That means that we can expect gas prices to rise sharply over the summer. While this is bad news for consumers, oil-rich countries and private oil firms are reaping a windfall. Oil giant Shell has seen their profits nearly triple in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021.

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