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An Iranian archaeologist has spent years in an almost single-handed quest across the country's hills and desert plains to uncover ancient rock art that could be among the oldest in the world.Despite its rough beauty, it is hard to imagine that the desolate, rock-strewn landscape outside the town of Khomein in central Iran conceals any treasures.Dutch enthusiasts who visited the area with Naserifard in 2008 dated the cup marks to more than 40,000 years ago, putting them among the oldest rock art on the planet.Added to that was the fact that rock art has never been a priority in Iran, where pre-Islamic history can be a controversial subject.The Khomein hills are typical of rock art locations around the world – a once-fertile riverside spot that supported sizeable settlements.As in other places around the world, the artists were fixated by a single image: In Iran, pictures of the ibex deer account for more than 90 percent of the ancient engravings catalogued by Naserifard.
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