Authorization

Neanderthals were capable of making art

Neanderthals were capable of making art

The dates suggest Neanderthals stencilled their hands by blowing red paint over them
Contrary to the traditional view of them as brutes, it turns out that Neanderthals were artists.A study in Science journal suggests they made cave drawings in Spain that pre-date the arrival of modern humans in Europe by 20,000 years.They also appear to have used painted sea shells as jewellery.Art was previously thought to be a behaviour unique to our species (Homo sapiens) and far beyond our evolutionary cousins.The cave paintings include stencilled impressions of Neanderthal hands, geometric patterns and red circles.
They occupy three sites at La Pasiega, Maltravieso and Ardales - situated up to 700km apart in different parts of Spain.The researchers used a technique called uranium-thorium dating to obtain accurate ages. It relies on measuring the radioactive decay of uranium that gets incorporated into mineral crusts forming over the paintings.The results gave a minimum age of 65,000 years ago for the cave art, modern humans only arrived in Europe roughly 45,000 years ago. This means that the Palaeolithic artwork must have been made by Neanderthals, a "sister" species to Homo sapiens, and Europe's sole human inhabitants at the time.
Change in thinking
The findings are supported by the dating of sea shells that were perforated to be used on necklaces and are stained with pigments. Two of the four samples dated to about 115,000 years ago - again, much further back in time than the known presence of modern humans in the region.Prof Alistair Pike, from the University of Southampton, who is a co-author of the study, said: "Soon after the discovery of the first of their fossils in the 19th century, Neanderthals were portrayed as brutish and uncultured, incapable of art and symbolic behaviour, and some of these views persist today.""The issue of just how human-like Neanderthals behaved is a hotly debated issue. Our findings will make a significant contribution to that debate."Prof Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the study, commented: "Some previous claims for Neanderthal symbolic behaviour had dating uncertainties or lay within inferred overlaps between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens 40-60,000 years ago, meaning that they could still be attributed to modern humans, or to the influence of modern humans on Neanderthal behaviour."He said that the new work "seems to remove any doubts" that Neanderthals were capable of symbolic or artistic expression in their own right. Prof Stringer explained: "They further narrow any perceived behavioural gap between the Neanderthals and us.But he added that it could be argued there were still no clear examples of Neanderthal figurative art - artwork drawn from real sources, such as animals or people.Early symbolic artefacts, dating back 70,000 years, have been found in Africa but are associated with modern humans.Paul Pettitt, from Durham University, commented: "Neanderthals created meaningful symbols in meaningful places. The art is not a one-off accident."We have examples in three caves 700km apart, and evidence that it was a long-lived tradition. It is quite possible that similar cave art in other caves in Western Europe is of Neanderthal origin as well."Follow Paul on Twitter.
See also:
Leave a comment
News
  • Latest
  • Read
  • Commented
Calendar Content
«    Сентябрь 2018    »
ПнВтСрЧтПтСбВс
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930