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The team's discovery of the carvings was widely reported in the media last year as the only Paleolithic cave art ever known from the U. Most other ancient British rock art is 8,000 years more recent than the art at Creswell Crags and is found on open rock faces.

The soon-to-be-released results will verify the estimated date of the cave art, Pettitt said.

Slow-growing stalactites and other mineral aggregations, which have built up on the surface of some of the carvings, were already an indication of the art's prehistoric provenance.

"Psychological Barrier" Some experts have argued that cave paintings are quickly degraded in the damp British climate.

Jon Humble is an inspector of ancient monuments with the government conservation body English Heritage, based in Northampton.

He suggests that some experts were too quick to dismiss the possibility that lasting art from Paleolithic peoples could be found in Britain.

"There had been a psychological barrier to the existence of cave art in Britain … but never a satisfactory explanation as to why there was none," he said.

The spectacular discovery at Creswell Crags now firmly places Britain on the cave-art map, Humble said.

British First Pettitt and his archaeologist colleagues Sergio Ripoli, of the Universidad Nacional de EducaciĆ³n a Distancia in Madrid, and Paul Bahn, an independent expert on cave art, first discovered a small number of the carvings in April 2003 in caves known to have been inhabited before the end of the Ice Age.

The researchers described their initial find in the June 2003 issue of the archaeological journal Antiquity.

Other archaeological artifacts, such as figures and needles carved from bone, had previously been found at Creswell Crags.

The objects, which dated to 12,000 to 13,000 years old, prompted Pettitt and his colleagues to scour the site for cave art.