thought

scientists find the dawn of creativity date is possibly earlier than originally thought

I came across a couple of interesting articles in the UK Telegraph paper today - about the history of art and discovery of 11000 year old paintings that seem to be painted in a modern geometric style.

'Oldest' wall painting looks like modern art
"French archaeologists have discovered an 11,000-year-old work of art in northern Syria which is the oldest known wall painting, even though it looks like a work by a modernist.

The two square-metre painting, in red, black and white, was found at the Neolithic settlement of Djade al-Mughara on the Euphrates, northeast of the city of Aleppo.

"It looks like a modernist painting," said Eric Coqueugniot, the team leader. "Some of those who saw it have likened it to work by (Paul) Klee. Through carbon dating we established it is from around 9,000 BC."

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The dating makes the designs at least 1500 years older than wall paintings at Çatalhöyük, the famous 9500-year-old Turkish village, among one of the first towns. Cave art dates back much further but it was not until the so-called Neolithic Revolution that people began marking up human-made surfaces.

Scientists are fascinated by the birth of art because it marked a decisive point in our story, when man took a critical step beyond the limitations of his hairy ancestors and began to use symbols. The modern mind was born."

related articles :

The birth of our modern minds ...

Two pieces of ochre engraved with geometrical patterns more than 70,000 years ago, were recently found at Blombos Cave, 180 miles east of Cape Town. If the current dogma is accepted, this means people were able to think abstractly and behave as modern humans much earlier than previously thought.

Lord Renfrew would argue that art, like genetics, does not tell the whole story of our origins. For him, the real revolution occurred 10,000 years ago with the first permanent villages. That is when the effects of new software kicked in, allowing our ancestors to work together in a more settled way. That is when plants and animals were domesticated and agriculture born.

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Lord Renfrew puts his faith in "cognitive archaeology". This is not "thinking prehistoric thoughts" but has a more modest aim of revealing how ancient minds worked by studying what they did - how they counted, made flint tools or used measures.

Intriguingly, he argues, in his book Figuring it Out, that contemporary art also provides insights into how proto-societies grappled with the material world.

Cave find dates dawn of creativity

TWO pieces of ochre - a form of iron ore - engraved with geometrical patterns more than 70,000 years ago reveal that people were able to think abstractly and behave as modern humans much earlier than previously thought.

The discovery in a South African cave suggests that humans have created art for twice as long as suggested by previous discoveries, notably by cave paintings from France that have been dated to less than 35,000 years ago.

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While genetic and fossil evidence suggests that humans were anatomically modern in Africa before 100,000 years ago, scholars are not yet able to agree on whether human behaviour and physique developed in tandem.

Some believe that modern behaviour arose relatively late and rapidly, 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, while others believe that it evolved earlier and more gradually.

The diversity of views reflects the lack of agreement among scientists on what behaviour best defines the difference between modern humans and their earlier ancestors.

But there is a general consensus that a clear marker of modern behaviour are the cognitive abilities that would be used, for example, to create abstract or depictional images.

"Archaeological evidence of abstract or depictional images indicates modern behaviour," Prof Henshilwood said. "The Blombos Cave engravings are intentional images."

Stone Age masterpieces shed new light on the origins of art

EUROPE'S oldest cave paintings - a menagerie of lions, rhinos, bears and panthers drawn at least 30,000 years ago - are so sophisticated that they may force scientists to think again about the origins of art.

New radiocarbon datings of the Chauvet cavern paintings in Ardeche, France, have confirmed that their Stone Age creators were as skilled as painters 15,000 years later.

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"Prehistorians, who have traditionally interpreted the evolution of prehistoric art as a steady progression from simple to more complex representations, may have to reconsider existing theories of the origins of art."

The caves have challenged the conventional theory of the evolution of art which states that it had crude beginnings in the Aurignacian period followed by gradual progress over thousands of years.

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