Call it the meeting of the caveman and the chemist, and an insightful glimpse will be provided Tuesday (Apri1 8) at the final presentation of Texas A&M's 2002-03 University Distinguished Lecture Series.

For more than a century, scientists seeking insight into prehistoric humans focused their attention on pottery fragments, stone tools and other tangible artifacts while largely ignoring paintings on cave walls and stone formations. But it wasn't for lack of interest: The inability to accurately date these relics - known as "pictographs" - simply made them less useful as subjects of study.

Thanks to Texas A&M Professor Marvin Rowe, however, that limitation is now virtually eliminated, allowing scientists for the first time to determine when pictographs were created. The ability to correlate them in time with other artifacts in turn helps to paint a more complete picture of ancient cultures from the American Southwest and Latin America, to Africa, Australia and Europe.

Rowe, a nuclear chemist with a background in petroleum engineering, will explain how he and his team developed their innovative methods of dating ancient pictographs in an illustrated lecture Tuesday evening. "Picture This: Using Chemistry to Date Ancient Cave Art" is the fourth and final installment of the 2002-03 University Distinguished Lecture Series and begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Presidential Conference Center.

Tickets are free and available at the MSC Box Office in Rudder Tower on the Texas A&M campus. Additional information about Rowe's lecture and the series is available online at http://www.tamu.edu/provost/udls.

Contact: Farrell, University Relations.

Press Coverage:
"Rock of Ages: Method developed at A&M challenges claims over cave paintings" - Houston Chronicle (06/29/2003)


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