|IFRAO Report Number 13|
MEMBERS' PROGRESS REPORTS
AARS (Association des Amis de l'Art Rupestre Saharien)
The central interest of the AARS is the rock art of the Sahara, from the
Atlantic to the Red Sea, and from Maghreb to Sahel.
Its main objectives are to promote studies, diffuse information and
disseminate documentation relating to rock art.
AARS has more than 120 members in various European countries
(Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain,
Switzerland, U.K.) and in north Africa (Algeria, Morocco).
Fifty to 60 people attend the annual meetings which are organised
alternately in France, Germany and Italy.
During these three-day meetings, 20 to 25 communications
(with slides) are presented by AARS members, covering most
parts of the Sahara and a large variety of topics
(survey, discoveries, methodology, preservation, dating etc.).
Beginning with 1993, the proceedings of the meetings should be published
for internal distribution. In addition, a Newsletter is issued two or
three times per year, giving information about AARS and rock art events,
books, techniques, trips, seminars or conferences.
The CeSMAP Centro Studi e Museo d'Arte Preistorica, Pinerolo)
and the AARS are jointly preparing an international travelling
exhibition on Saharan rock art, due to take place first in Pinerolo
(Italy) in 1995. This exhibition (about 60 photographs and maps) is
intended to then travel in Europe and U.S.A., but it may be available
for other countries upon request.
One of the current objectives is to design a map showing the
distribution of the animals (wild or domestic species) represented in
Saharan rock art. This information, distributed over hundreds of
publications and unpublished documents of AARS members, has not
yet been assembled and such maps are only available for some
animals and/or some limited regions, but not for the whole Sahara.
This map is aimed at helping those working in other fields who
are interested in the presence (or absence) of particular species
during the Holocene period in relation to climatic oscillations.
Apart from the AARS publications, articles, monographs and
theses are published individually by many members, both
archaeologists and non-archaeologists.
In addition, some members are interested in technical aspects,
data recording and image treatment.
Members are also involved in surveys in a few regions,
particularly Morocco, Adrar des Iforas, Dakhleh oasis
(Egypt) and central Sahara (Tassili-n-Ajjer and Fezzn).
Finally, numerous trips are organised by individual members to
visit rock art sites and for field research.
A. Muzzolini and Y. Gauthier
President and Secretary respectively, AARS
ARAPE (Association pour le Rayonnement de l'Art Parietal Europeen)
The broad aims of the Association are to further research in rock art
and to improve communication among rock art specialists.
Irrespective of the research activities of its members, which
include field trips, lectures, university courses, excavations,
tracings and the like, its main activity consists in the publishing
of the International Newsletter on Rock Art (INORA).
Three issues of the Newsletter are produced per year, of
thirty-two pages each, in February, June and November.
It is concerned with rock art world-wide.
All items are published in both English and French, as
is the custom of ICOMOS. Contributions deal with recent
discoveries, accounts of newly-published books, a forum for
principles and practice, technical information, announcements and
accounts of specialised meetings, and overall views of rock art in whole
countries or large areas. So far, INORA has been produced for three
years, 1992 to 1994, and nine issues have been published.
AURA (Australian Rock Art Research Association)
During the eleven years of its existence, AURA has established a solid
publishing base specialising in high-calibre, refereed work in the field
of rock art studies. So far, eight volumes of the Occasional AURA
Publications have appeared, and AURA has been instrumental in the
conception of several major volumes by other publishers in other
countries. The journal of AURA, Rock Art Research, is also the official
organ of IFRAO, and is read in about sixty countries. Three years ago,
the publishing arm of AURA, Archaeological Publications, rescued an
ailing archaeological journal, The Artefact, transforming it into
Australia's international archaeology journal. The AURA Newsletter is
also produced by AURA.
These endeavours to establish a viable scientific publishing
base are a reflection of AURA's principal commitment: to provide an
international forum for the dissemination of the most important research
findings in rock art, with a special emphasis on Australia. The same
objective is reflected in the staging of the AURA Congresses, which have
been the largest academic events held in the discipline. In Australia,
AURA's policies have led to an unprecedented flourishing of rock art
The second principal objective of AURA is to promote traditional
indigenous custodianship of rock art in those regions where extant
societies claim rock art as part of their cultural heritage. Recent
developments in Australia have been momentous in this area, and we can
optimistically anticipate a time when this objective can be deleted from
AURA's agenda, having been fully realised.
Besides the AURA Congress, AURA has also held smaller symposia
and field trips, including a successful rock art tour to China. AURA
members attend all rock art conferences in the world, and collectively
they account for a very large share of serious rock art research
conducted in the world, with Australians now constituting only a
minority of AURA's membership. AURA's publications are distributed free
to many researchers in developing countries and in former socialist
countries, as part of AURA's commitment to ensure that researchers in
such countries are not disadvantaged excessively. AURA maintains
various types of exchange and other institutional agreements with
numerous agencies around the world.
Robert G. Bednarik
Secretary and Editor, AURA
EARARA (East African Rock Art Research Association)
So far, EARARA has concentrated, by way of public lectures and
publications, on raising the awareness of both governments and the
public at large, about the imminent threats to the rock art heritage as
posed by vandalism and by biochemical factors.
To this end, EARARA is preparing a newsletter which is
expected to appear by about January 1994.
EARARA would very much like to sponsor short field trips to rock
art sites, but lack of finance has made this impossible.
However, through a grant from the University of Dar es
Salaam, the Chair, Dr F. T. Masao, has been able to conduct
thirty days of extensive field work in Singida, in order to record
as much of the vanishing rock art as possible.
The findings are expected to be published in a monograph next
year. Finally, EARARA has been planning for a pan-African
conference on rock art which could have taken place in 1994,
but since ARARA is conducting its International Rock Art
Congress in Arizona this year it has been decided to defer
the pan-African conference to 1996.
F. T. Masao
GE.FE.BI. (Gesellschaft fur Vergleichende Felsbildforschung)
The GE.FE.BI. (Society for Comparative Rock Art Studies) was
formed in 1977 and merged with the Swiss Society for Comparative
Rock Art Studies.
Its aim is to analyse the rock art of the world, but especially the
Indo-European material, with the purpose of recognising common
archetypal manifestations. For over fifteen years, the Gesellschaft
has conducted major field trips every second year, in Europe,
Africa, and especially in India, to both known and new rock art
sites and to megalithic structures.
Its work has been reported at conferences in various countries,
and it is reflected in a series of Jahrbucher, of which ten have
so far appeared.
The Gesellschaft sees itself as a bridge between the exact
scientific comprehension of the visible abstractions of rock art
on the one hand, and the human desire to interpret such fascinating
signs of prehistory, to construe the less obvious meaning, in
order to ascertain our origins, what we are today and where
our course might lead.
The rise of today's many scientific rock art organisations derives
its impetus from the desire to understand the signs.
The GE.FE.BI. is not opposed to materialist science,
but is perceived as a necessary supplement to illuminate
alternative view points.
Our appeal is directed to those scientists who use computers,
to detect with their help archetypes in rock art assemblages,
so that we see in rock art not just the metaphorical letters,
but also the words and sentences they form.
RARAC (Rock Art Research Association of China)
1993 has been a busy year for RARAC.
It has held three rock art exhibitions: in Tianjin, Shandong
and Beijing. The exhibitions were well promoted, and were
announced in newspapers and magazines, as well as by
radio and television. The members of RARAC have published three
substantial books during 1993: Masks in China's rock art, The rock art
at Mt Helan and Mt North, and A history of the discovery
of the world's rock art. In addition, RARAC has published a
mimeographed newsletter in 1993.
In the course of 1994, RARAC is planning to hold an exhibition
of the world's rock art. It will include some of the Australian
photographic material collected by Professor Chen Zhao Fu during
the two AURA Congresses, in Arnhem Land, Kimberley and Laura.
Three volumes of The complete works of China's rock art
will be published during 1994.
They are part of a series of six volumes, compiled according to
geographical rock art areas. These books will be of large format and
will each contain about 200 colour plates.
An international rock art conference is planned in 1995, to be
held in the Altai District, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
If RARAC is to proceed with this plan, preparations will
Chen Zhao Fu
Societe Prhistorique Ariege-Pyrenees
This Society has been in existence for forty-seven years. It is mainly
focused on the Ariege and the French Pyrenees, but its specialty is
prehistoric and tribal rock art world-wide. It arranges public lectures
intended for the general public as well as specialists, and it publishes
a yearly scientific journal, in French (generally between 200 and 250
pages per volume, or more). The papers published deal with prehistory in
the Pyrenees and rock art anywhere in the world, but most papers have
been on Europe and North Africa. This journal, the Bulletin de la
Societe Prehistorique Ariege-Pyrenees, is widely read since it is sent
to specialists, universities and museums in sixty-four countries, on all
continents. One of its specialties is its Preface, each year by a
different archaeologist, in which the authors express their personal
points of view about research.
SIARB (Sociedad de Investigacion del Arte Rupestre de Bolivia)
The Bolivian Rock Art Research Society was founded in January 1987.
Its main objectives are recording and investigation of rock paintings
and petroglyphs, protection and conservation of rock art sites,
as well as publication of scientific reports and
a public education campaign.
The Society has registered 300 sites in all departments of the country,
though mainly in the Andean region. Rock art in Bolivia has a very
long tradition, apparently beginning in the Palaeo-Indian period and
up to the Colonial and Republican periods.
Numerous sites are still worshipped by present-day indigenes
who regard them as sacred places.
Research and documentation projects are under way in several
regions of Bolivia. Excavations at a rock art site in the Dept. of
Cochabamba were planned to take place in 1994, in collaboration
with the archaeological museum of the University of Cochabamba.
SIARB is trying to develop a policy for the conservation of sites,
taking into account experiences abroad and local conditions.
SIARB's Code of Ethics obliges its members to respect the
integrity of sites and to not reveal their exact locations
to the public, and it bans all potentially destructive
recording methods. An efficient low-cost site protection project has
been completed in Torotoro, and SIARB tries to create awareness for the
need of protecting sites among local villagers. The Society works with
government agencies to improve the administration of the few existing
archaeological parks with rock art.
A public education campaign has been organised by SIARB,
featuring two major expositions on Bolivian rock art, one of which
toured seven cities. SIARB has published a flyer on rock art for
children, another on the rock paintings of Qala Qala, and a booklet on
rock art of the Dept. of Santa Cruz for the public. A series of slides
for use in schools has been prepared. Lectures on rock art are
frequent-ly held in La Paz. In 1993, the Bolivian post office issued a
series of nine stamps on rock art in collaboration with SIARB (see front
cover of RAR 10/2). In 1994, SIARB inaugurated an exposition of posters
of world rock art in the National Museum of Art, La Paz.
SIARB has organised three international conferences which took
place in Cochabamba (1988), La Paz (1989) and Santa Cruz (1991).
The fourth SIARB conference will be held in 1997 in the historic city of
Sucre, with a special section on the dating of rock art. SIARB publishes
the annual Boletin, with Spanish text and detailed English summaries.
In addition, a series of occasional papers called Contribuciones al Estudio
del Arte Rupestre Sudamericano is published, of which three volumes have
so far appeared.
Secretary and Editor, SIARB
Comments on the Minutes of the Third Business Meeting of IFRAO
A. Muzzolini, IFRAO Representative of AARS, has provi-ded
the following comments:
Item 5.1, Exchange of publications: AARS finds it too expensive to
provide a copy of its publication to each of the twenty-three other
This point has been informally raised before, by another affiliate.
Members will need to weigh the benefits against the costs and
make their own decisions accordingly. Members who believe that it is of
benefit to incorporate in their libraries a set of publications produced
by each IFRAO member are strongly urged to maintain such publication
exchanges on an individual and volun-ary basis.
Item 5.2, Copyright: AARS cannot dispose of copyrights, particularly on
behalf of authors. This applies to text as well as images.
The point is valid not only for AARS, but presumably for all
IFRAO members: they cannot ignore copyright laws in their respective
countries. The waiving of copyright was originally intended for very
short items (under 500 words), and primarily for unsigned announcements.
If in any doubt, members still need to contact copyright holders.
However, it is stated quite categori-cally that no part of the IFRAO
Reports is copyrighted in respect of IFRAO members: every section, or
the entire reports, may be re-published by any IFRAO member without
permission. Submission of any item to this column is deemed to confer
copyright to IFRAO collectively.
Agenda for the 1995 IFRAO Meeting Turin, Italy
Bearing in mind the various problems of previous IFRAO Meetings it is
suggested that this conference should not coincide with events or
proceedings of the host congress that are likely to be of interest to
delegates. It may also be of benefit to spread proceedings over several
days, in separate sessions of just a few hours each. Alternatively, if
the proceedings are conducted as a continuous program, they should take
place on the days subsequent to actual congress proceedings to avoid
distracting IFRAO delegates. It is suggested that the following agenda
will involve about sixteen hours of conference time, and the IFRAO
Meeting should be planned on that basis.
The 1992 IFRAO Meeting (Cairns, Australia) was preceded by an
open consultation session, which was available as a forum for raising
and discussing any matter concerning the discipline. This was so poorly
attended that it was adjourned without a single constructive suggestion.
It is therefore proposed that the 1995 meeting be restricted to the
business meeting of Official IFRAO Representatives. The agenda of that
meeting will be as follows:
1. Apologies and declaration of proxies.
2. Confirmation of the minutes of the previous meeting
3. Matters arising from these minutes.
4. Constitution: consideration and ratification of draft
constitution as gazetted.
5. Reports from member organisations.
6. Unresolved or ongoing business previously debated:
6.1. Establishment of a universal and general code of ethics
(inclusive recording methods, sample removal etc.).
6.2. Computerised data-sharing systems and bibliographies.
6.3. International keyword system (initiated by CeSMAP).
6.4. Dissemination of IFRAO Standard Scale and promotion of digitised
systems based on it (initiated by AURA).
6.5. Future strategies in the discipline (education, conservation,
heritage nominations, standardisation etc.).
6.6. Copyright and exchange systems among IFRAO members.
7. New business.
8. General matters.
9. The 1996 IFRAO Meeting.
Rock Art Congress NEWS 95
30 August to 8 September 1995
Pinerolo and Turin, Italy
This is expected to be the largest academic event in rock art studies
before the end of this millennium. The Congress is organised by the
Centro Studi e Museo d'Arte Preistorica (CeSMAP), Pinerolo, a founding
member of IFRAO. The venue will be the Royal Castle of Valentino
(Faculty of Architecture), Turin.
The Turin congress is supported by the Italian Central Office,
by regional government agencies, by the EEC, the European Authority, and
the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO).
Program: the Congress consists of sixteen academic symposia, as well as
debates, films and displays, field trips to rock art sites, exhibitions
(e.g. `Rock art in the Alps', `Rock art in Europe', `Rock art in the
Sahara', etc.), and several special events, including the 1995 IFRAO
Meeting, opening plenary session, cocktail party and concert, farewell
Contributions: Prospective participants are encouraged to submit
abstracts (in English) for any of the following symposia.
Thematic areas and symposia
Thematic area A: Rock art studies
1A - New approaches
2A - Semiotics, signs and symbols
3A - Rock art and music-archaeology
Thematic area B: Rock art and presentation
4B - Mass media
5B - Museology and museography
6B - Management
Thematic area C: Rock art and conservation
7C - Ethics
8C - Preservation and restoration
9C - Rock art and archaeological excavation
10C - Dating, recording and computer science
Thematic area D: Rock art in the world
11D - Rock art of the circum-polar countries
12D - Rock art and Mediterranean Sea
13D - Rock art of the Sahara
14D - News of the world
15D - Christian manifestations in rock art
16D - Rock art and ethnography
Field trips: numerous field trips will be conducted, both during and
after the academic program: to post-Palaeolithic rock art sites in the
Alps, Mount Bego, the Rock Cavour Park, western Alps, Savoy, Val d'Aosta
stelae, Val Camonica, Carchenna etc. Tours will be conducted on the
subjects of prehistory, ethnography and history in Italy, to Turin,
Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, Rome.
Pre-registrations and enquiries to: CeSMAP, Viale Giolitti 1, 10064
Pinerolo (TO), Italy
Telephone 121-794382, Fax 121-76550
Professor Dario Seglie (Director, CeSMAP)
Dr Piero Ricchiardi (President, CeSMAP)
Call for papers
Abstracts of papers for the following symposia should be
submitted to the chairpersons listed below:
1A - Rock art studies: new approaches. Abstracts of 100-150 words
from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia to Robert G. Bednarik,
AURA, P.O. Box 216, Caulfield South, Vic. 3162, Australia; from Europe,
including Russia, to Francesco d'Errico, Department of Archaeology,
Downing Street, CB2 3DZ Cambridge, United Kingdom.
7C - Rock art and conservation: ethics. Abstracts to Francois X.
Soleilhavoup, Groupe d'Etude et de Recherche sur les Milieux Extrmes
(GERME), B.P. 132, F-93805 Epinay-sur-Seine-Cedex, France
10C - Dating, recording and computer science. Abstracts can be sent
to either B. K. Swartz, Jr, Department of Anthropology, Ball State
Univer-sity, Muncie, IN 47306-0435, U.S.A. - Tel. (317) 285-1577, Fax
(317) 285-2163, E-Mail 01BKSWARTZ@LEO. BSUVC.BSU.EDU.;
or to Mila Simoes de Abreu, Av. D. Jos I, n. 53, 2780 Oeiras, Portugal
Tel and Fax 351-(0)1-4421374 or 4101359.
14C - Rock art: news of the world 1995. Papers and abstracts can be
submitted to either Paul G. Bahn, 428 Anlaby Road, Hull HU3 6QP, England
- Tel./Fax 44-482-52172; or Angelo Fossati, Cooperativa Archeologica `Le
Orme dell'Uomo', Piaz-zale Donatori di Sangue 1, 25040 Cerveno (Bs),
Italy - Tel. 39-364-433983, Fax 39-364-434351.
16D - Rock art and ethnography. Papers from Africa, the Americas,
Asia and Australia can be submitted to Alicia A. Fernandez Distel,
Centro Argentino de Etnologia Americana, Av. de Mayo 1437 1ø "A", 1085
Buenos Aires, Argentina. Papers from Europe, including Russia, can be
submitted to Alberto Guaraldo, Instituto di Antropologia Culturale,
Dipartimento Scienze Antropologiche, Archeologiche e Storica
Territoriali dell'Universita, Via Giolitti 21/E, 10123 Torino, Italy.
For full details concerning the above symposia, please consult AURA
Newsletter 11/2 (September 1994).
8C - Preservation and restoration. Papers to Alan Watchman,
Data-Roche Watchman, Inc., 1631 rue Eden, Ancienne-Lorette, Qubec,
Canada G2E 2N2.
13D - Rock art of the Sahara. Abstracts to A. Muzzolini, 7 rue J. de
Resseguier, 31000 Toulouse, France; or J. L. Le Quellec, Brenessard,
85540 St-Benoist-sur-Mer, France.
15D - Christian manifestations in rock art. Abstracts to Roy
Querejazu Lewis, Casilla 4243, Cochabamba, Bolivia
COLOUR RE-CONSTITUTION ACHIEVED!
Historical breakthrough in rock art research
The previous IFRAO Report, No. 12 (RAR 11: 74-5), announced the
release of the IFRAO Standard Scale, and explained its use and purposes.
Copies of the Scale were included in that issue of RAR, and they have
been or will be distributed with all other journals or newsletters of
the organisations affiliated with IFRAO. Between June and December 1994,
a total of 8000 copies of the Scale have been distributed, most of them
through the established network of IFRAO. Further distribution
continues, together with the wide dissemination of the explanatory
texts. At the end of stage one of this ongoing project, 22 000 copies of
the Scale will have been distributed world-wide, and the relevant
guidelines will have been re-published dozens of times.
Already in the first few months the Scale has been available, I
have received several requests for it from specialists in other
disciplines, to whom I have provided a few hundred copies so far. They
include people in such fields as museology, conservation science and
archival recording. Numerous further fields may find the adoption of our
calibration standard useful in the future, particularly in view of the
latest development as reported below.
Various colour scales have of course been available for many
years, and a very few rock art photographers have even used them. They
all have certain limitations, and future developments in the discipline
will inevitably demand standardisation and simplification. Most
importantly, a minimum standard must be universally available, and at no
cost to researchers in developing countries. This is the single most
important precondition of creating global records of rock art that will
facilitate colour re-constitution and calibration in the future.
The enormous potential of the IFRAO Scale as a tool of research,
archival storage and conservation has just been dramatically
demonstrated by a historical breakthrough. In the course of an extensive
collaborative program with the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav
Sangrahalaya (National Museum of Man, Bhopal, India), in November and
Decem-ber 1994, I soon found that the excellent computer facilities of
that museum were more than adequate to experiment with the most
important proposed application of the IFRAO Scale - the possibility of
colour re-constitution. It would be a very great help to the discipline
to have comprehensive guidelines about the most effective use of the
Scale for this particular purpose. But to design such guidelines it was
essential to conduct a pilot project, and to try out practical
applications of the envisaged technology. I proposed to the Bhopal
Museum of Man to conduct such experiments, which was most
enthusiastically welcomed by Dr K. K. Chakravarty, the Museum's
On 8 December 1994, Kulasekaran Seshadri, computer modeller and
in-charge of the Museum's computer centre, became the first person to
attempt to re-constitute the true colour properties of a rock art
photograph. The four pictures he worked with initially had been taken by
me only a few days previously, at one of the most important rock art
sites in the world, Bhimbetka.
The effect was dramatic and the result simply overwhelming. Like
every student of rock art (or indeed, most photographers of any
subject), I had always known that colour photography is a subjective
method of recording colour, but I had not suspected the distortion to be
as great as it is in most cases, or the effect of correction to be as
dramatic as indeed it is. Photographs that appeared to be of excellent
colour fidelity were shown to be most unreliable on the subsequent days
of experimenting, and photographs that might pass visual field
comparison with the original art still required considerable correction.
For a week we conducted numerous experiments and Seshadri, an
unusually talented computer operator (who is also a gifted artist),
produced one breakthrough after another, day in and day out. For
instance, we discovered that we could achieve 50% to 80% colour
re-constitution in photographs bearing only a black and white scale.
Under some conditions, even photographs without any scale lend
themselves to limited re-constitution, and the basic process applies
also to monochrome photographs. It soon became clear to us that the
field worker requires sound guidelines before the discipline embarks on
ambitious programs of creating large calibrated archival records.
This series of experiments is therefore being continued as a
matter of urgency, and we expect to finalise and release comprehensive
guidelines by March 1995. These will be promptly circulated, while
scientific and technical reports can be expected at the earliest
possible time (mid-1995). They will provide to the discipline full
details of this technology, of the software being developed, and of the
optimum conditions for its use.
With this development begins a new phase in rock art studies. As
from now, un-calibrated photographic records are not only a superseded
method of recording rock art, photographs as such are now relegated to
the role of an intermediate, provisional form of data recording:
photography permits the recovery of much more information than is
perceptible to human vision, and this additional but coded information
can be decoded by the computer. From now on, taking a photograph of rock
art for its own sake is like excavating stone tools for their
collector's value: an unscientific, self-centred pursuit of very limited
utility to the discipline. It will soon become the preserve of rock art
dinosaurs, who I expect will maintain that they photograph rock art for
their own personal enjoyment, and that they do not care what researchers
of future generations will think of them.
With the introduction of colour re-constitution we are taking a
decisive step in making rock art research a fully scientific pursuit.
Until now, we have been content with collecting our photographic
recordings, films and videos without, in most cases, rendering them
susceptible to scientific manipulation and study. We have been wasting
an awful lot of film in the process.
Robert G. Bednarik
Photographing or filming rock art without a calibration standard is a
waste of film!
The Hell's Canyon petroglyphs in Portugal
ROBERT G. BEDNARIK
Canada do Inferno, or Hell's Canyon, is located on the C"a
river, a tributary of the Douro river in the north-east-ern corner of
Portugal. A hydroelectric dam, planned as a holding reservoir for a
smaller dam built twelve years ago, has involved an environmental impact
study since 1989. Numerous petroglyphs were known to exist in the
valley, and in the course of the survey it was found that a number of
them appear to be of the Upper Palaeolithic. The archaeological team
from the government's Instituto Portugues do Patrimonio Arquitectonico e
Arqueologico (IPPAR) failed to disclose the discovery to the scientific
community. Its director visited the site a year ago and the find was
deliberately concealed while the state-owned electricity utility,
Electricidade de Portugal (EDP), constructed the dam. Two days before
the petroglyphs were to become inundated by the rising water, the
archaeologist in charge of the survey contacted the IFRAO Re
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