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At more than 40,800 years old, "this is currently Europe's oldest dated art by at least 4,000 years," said the study's lead author Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol in the U.K.
The new dates raise the possibility that some of the paintings could have been made by Neanderthals, who are thought to have lived in Europe until about 30,000 or 40,000 years ago. Modern humans are believed to have also been in the area at the time, arriving about 41,500 years ago.
Study co-author João Zilhão goes a step further, suggesting that, if Neanderthals were responsible for some of the Spanish cave art, then perhaps there's no real distinction between them and modern humans.
"It adds to the evidence ... that Neanderthals were a European racial variant of Homo sapiens, not a distinct species," said Zilhão, of the University of Barcelona.
Stone Age humans had an elementary knowledge of chemistry. Archaeologists have found evidence that, as long ago as 100,000 years, people used a specific recipe to create a mixture based on the iron-rich ochre pigment.
For archaeologists, symbolic behaviour - manifest in art and body decoration - is the great hallmark of modern behaviour and mind. Some even argue that the appearance of symbolism correlates with the origin of syntactical language in our ancestors. The most obvious examples of symbolism are the carved figurines and cave paintings of Upper Palaeolithic Europe (African Later Stone Age). But there is evidence of symbolic behaviour much earlier at Blombos. Ochre, and lots of it.
Professor Walther Matthes often collected from the spoil heaps of previous excavations cataloguing specimens with a sound provenance from across Germany (see images below). Regrettably, following his death, a large part of the collection he amassed was reduced to rubble at the request of his resident University. The items shown below from Wittenbergen, Germany had good provenance and clearly resemble the animals suggested by Walter Matthes if they are not simply recognisable as 'zoomorphs'. All show signs of modification that are consistent with the preservation of features (e.g. stepped, hinged and even overshot fractures) to accomplish the end effect - suggested to be examples of routine incorporation of iconographic properties. The Wittenbergen artefacts date to the Lower Palaeolithic (Eiszeitkunst Im Nordseeraum, Matthes, 1969).
On a summer's day in 1879, an amateur anthropologist and his eight-year old daughter were exploring the area around Santillana del Mar, when they came across an opening to a cave. It had been exposed a few years previously by a landslide provoked by heavy rains. A hunter had chanced upon it the year before, but finding no bears or wolves, he continued on his way. Intrigued, father and daughter lit their charcoal lamps and climbed in through the entrance. As the anthropologist scoured the floor for bones and arrowheads his daughter looked up to the cave's ceiling and exclaimed, “Look Dad, they're cows! ( Mira, Papá, son bueyes )” .
originally posted by: skalla
I'm going to jump in to the realm of the very ancient and speculative for this post and show what i've seen described as "Pierre Figurines" and date from the Lower Palaeolithic, from about 300,000 years ago to about 2.5 million years ago.
The performing bees, birds, fish, or quadrupeds are moved spontaneously from centers of memory antecedent to their own lives. Through each, the species speaks. And since in human traditional rites spontaneous collective responses to formalized displays occur, the earliest creators of the myths and rites of primitive mankind may not have been individuals at all, but the genes of the species. And since in human traditional rites also a certain psychological readiness to respond to specific sign stimuli is to be remarked–particularly among primitives–the earliest individual creators of myths and rites must not have been merely freely inventive fantasists, but inward-gazing, inward-listening seers (shamans), responding to some inner voice or movement of the species. —Joseph Campbell - See more at: www.associativemythology.com...