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Letters & Essays: 1950s

Letters & Essays of the Day

Unnamed Caves

By John Jeremiah Sullivan

Over the past few decades, in Tennes­see, archaeologists have unearthed an elab­orate cave-art tradition thousands of years old. The pictures are found in dark-zone sites—places where the Native American people who made the artwork did so at personal risk, crawling meters or, in some cases, miles under­ground with cane torches—as opposed to sites in the “twilight zone,” speleologists’ jargon for the stretch, just ­beyond the entry chamber, which is ­exposed to diffuse sunlight.