What is Art?
This question, “What is Art,” is a fundamental question not only about art, but the creative capacity to create art. In the first part of this post, we discuss the recently published article in Nature on September 12, 2018, which reports on the phenomenal discovery of art made by humans dating to 73, 000 years ago, some 40,000 years earlier than was previously believed.
In the second part of this post, we discuss an article published in Nature on December 3, 2014 ,which reported the discovery of an engraving made some 430,000 year ago, some 357,000 years before the discovery reported above.
Why is there this vast distance between the creation of the two objects, and what does it mean for us?
Human Art 73,000 Years Ago
As reported by National Geographic on September 12, 2018,
“Seventy-three thousand years ago, an early human in what is now South Africa picked up a piece of ocher and used it to scratch a hashtag-like mark onto a piece of stone.
Now, that stone has been discovered by an international team of archaeologists who are calling it the earliest known drawing in history.
According to their report, published today in the journal Nature, the stone predates the previous earliest known cave art—found in Indonesia and Spain—by 30,000 years. That would significantly push back the emergence of “behaviorally modern” activities among ancient Homo sapiens.”
Art 430,000 Years Ago
However, an earlier article published in Nature indicates that Art was created some 430,000 years ago.
The report of the discovery was published in Nature under the title, ”
“An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa”
According to the article,
“Abstract and depictive representations produced by drawing—known from Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia after 40,000 years ago—are a prime indicator of modern cognition and behaviour.
Here we report a cross-hatched pattern drawn with an ochre crayon on a ground silcrete flake recovered from approximately 73,000-year-old Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Our microscopic and chemical analyses of the pattern confirm that red ochre pigment was intentionally applied to the flake with an ochre crayon. .
This notable discovery pre-dates the earliest previously known abstract and figurative drawings by at least 30,000 years. This drawing demonstrates the ability of early Homo sapiens in southern Africa to produce graphic designs on various media using different techniques.”
Art from 430,000 Years Ago