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Cup and ring marks or cup marks are a form of prehistoric art found in the Atlantic seaboard of Europe (Ireland, Wales, Northern England, Scotland, France (Brittany), Portugal, and Spain (Galicia) – and in Mediterranean Europe – Italy (in Alpine valleys and Sardinia) and Greece (Thessaly[citation needed] and Irakleia (Cyclades)[1]), as well as in Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland)[citation needed] and in Switzerland (at Caschenna in Grisons). Two studies published in 2019 found that the population which built Britain's Stonehenge descended predominantly from Fertile Crescent, South Slavic, Anatolian, and Aegean farmers (see also Neolithic Agricultural Revolution), and while female lineages were varied, male lineages belonged almost exclusively to Eastern European and Mediterranean males of I2a genetic lineage.[2][3]

Similar forms are also found throughout the world including Australia,[4] Gabon, Greece, Hawaii,[5] India (Daraki-Chattan), Israel, Mexico, Mozambique[6] and the Americas.[7][8] The oldest known forms are found from the Fertile Crescent to India.

They consist of a concave depression, no more than a few centimetres across, pecked into a rock surface and often surrounded by concentric circles also etched into the stone. Sometimes a linear channel called a gutter leads out from the middle. The decoration occurs as a petroglyph on natural boulders and outcrops and also as an element of megalithic art on purposely worked megaliths such as the slab cists of the Food Vessel culture, some stone circles and passage graves such as the clava tombs and on the capstones at Newgrange.

Cup and ring petroglyph in lava rock, island of Hawaii, US

See also