The Washington Post

Cave with prehistori­c artwork sold at auction


A Missouri cave containing Native American artwork from more than 1,000 years ago was sold at auction Tuesday, disappoint­ing leaders of the Osage Nation who hoped to buy the land to “protect and preserve our most sacred site.”

A bidder agreed to pay $2.2 million to private owners for what’s known as “Picture Cave,” along with the 43 hilly acres that surround it near the town of Warrenton, about 60 miles west of St. Louis.

Bryan Laughlin, director of Selkirk Auctioneer­s & Appraisers, the St. Louis-based firm handling the auction, said the winning bidder declined to be named. A St. Louis family that’s owned the land since 1953 has mainly used it for hunting.

The cave was the site of sacred rituals and burying of the dead. It also has more than 290 prehistori­c glyphs, or hieroglyph­ic symbols used to represent sounds or meanings, “making it the largest collection of indigenous people’s polychrome paintings in Missouri,” according to the auction website.

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