At first sight it may seem a pointless exercise to produce a survey of late Pleistocene ‘artistic activity’ around the world, but there are two specific aims involved here: first, to show that human beings in different parts of the world were producing ‘art’ at roughly the same time, i.e. from about 40,000 BC onward, and particularly at the end of the Pleistocene, from about 12,0000 BC, and second, to show that the well known Ice Age art of Europe is no longer unique, but part of a far more widespread phenomenon (Bahn 1987; Bahn and Vertut 1988, 26–32). The European art remains supreme in its quantity and its ‘quality’ (i.e. its realism and its wide range of techniques), but that situation may well alter in the next decade or two as new discoveries are made elsewhere and new dating methods are refined and extended.
Ironically, the first clue to Pleistocene art outside Europe was found as long ago as 1870, only a few years after Edouard Lartet's and Henry Christy's discoveries in southern France were authenticated. Unfortunately, the object in question was badly published, and dis-appeared from 1895 until its rediscovery in 1956, and consequently very few works on Pleistocene art mention it. This mineralized sacrum of an extinct fossil camelid was found at Tequixquiac in the northern part of the central basin of Mexico. The bone is carved and engraved (two nostrils have been cut into the end) so as to represent the head of a pig-like or dog-like animal (pl. 18a). The circumstances of its discovery are unclear, but it is thought to be from a late Pleistocene bone bed, and to be at least 11,000 or 12,000 years old (Aveleyra 1965; Messmacher 1981,94). At present it is on exhibit in Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology.