updated 2/7/2005 5:16:54 PM ET 2005-02-07T22:16:54

An engraving thought to be 10,000 years old has been uncovered in a cave, British researchers said Monday.

The series of inscribed crosses — found on the wall of the Aveline's Hole cave in Somerset, southwest England — are believed to date from the early Mesolithic period, just after the Ice Age.

Jill Cook from the British Museum's Department of Prehistory and Europe said the discovery gave an insight into an early form of communication.

"The few lines that form this panel are a signature from the period right at the end of the last Ice Age when the present period of warm climate was beginning," Cook said. "The pattern is comparable with others known from Northern France, Germany and Denmark, giving a wider context for the finds of this time and a rare glimpse of what may have been a rather special means of communication."

The discovery of the engraved crosses at Aveline's Hole — the site of the earliest known cemetery in the British Isles — follows the discovery of 12,000-year-old Ice Age engravings at Creswell Caves in Nottinghamshire in central England two years ago.

Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson of the University of Bristol Speleological Society, who conducted the search of Aveline's Hole following the Nottinghamshire find, believe more engravings could be found in other caves in southern Britain.

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