A team of archeologists have discovered what they believe to be the world's oldest ancient fundraiser burial ground in a cave in southern France.
The cave, near the town of St. Coup, 200 kilometers south of Paris, was found by a group of scientists from the University Northern Southern Idaho two months ago during a dig for ancient caveman ruins in the area. It contained a number of cave drawings that scientists say prove that our distant ancestors were fundraising more than 200,000 years ago.
The discovery was published the Journal of Archeological Fundraising & Gift Planning.
"We happened upon the cave by accident," said lead researcher Dr. Fowl Snidely. "One of our party had to have a pee while we were in an ancient cave system and got lost. That's when we found the drawings."
The six drawings include pictures of people and mammoths in a variety of groupings. Snidley says the drawing could represent the first fundraising database.
"We've got several entries here where the cave dwellers here carved out entries of their donors. One had two wives, three dogs and had reportedly killed many mammoths -- a major donor to be sure. They carved a line between that entry and another one farther down the rock face, indicating a soft credit," said Snidely.
The reserarchers have been able to determine from the drawings that the cave was once home to a thriving charity that had at least three dozen annual donors and issued nearly twice that number of tax receipts, mostly in rock slate, but sometimes on tree bark or on the skulls of unfortunate donors who chose not to give that year. The bones of several small animals were found in a small pit indicating that the fundraisers were probably paid in food or just liked dead things.
"We found the bones of several cave people who were likely venerated fundraisers. They were buried in their workplace -- a true testament to how much they were held in esteem. However, one of my colleagues thinks that these souls were actually killled and then eaten by their fellow fundraisers for not meeting their donation quotas. We found several teeth marks on their bones," said Snidely.
The find also included several attempts to smash cavemen's skulls into the rock. This, scientists concluded, was the first attempt to use "face book" in fundraising.
The find predates the earliest known example of fundraising, which was found in Eygpt near the Foofi Pyramid outside Alexandria. There, a centuries old pillar bears the markings of Conviox, the ancient Eygptian god of the underworld who was in the shape of a half-man, half-locust. Scientists believe most ancient cultures -- Mayans, Babalonians, Greeks, Romans and the Tea Party movement -- all had some form of fundraising. The one famous exception was the the ancient Persians, who rejected fundraising and instead were the first to develop social investing until a plague wiped them out in 850 BCE.