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DID THE NEANDERTHALS INVENT ABSTRACT ART [SOME 39,000 YEARS AGO] ?

A Neanderthal rock engraving inside a cave in Gibraltar. The discovery of geometric shapes carved into a cave in Gibraltar dating back more than 39,000 years is the earliest example of cave art of the Neanderthals, with researchers suggesting that these extinct cousins ​​of modern humans were also capable of abstraction. AFP PHOTO/ Stewart Finlayson.

A Neanderthal rock engraving inside a cave in Gibraltar. The discovery of geometric shapes carved into a cave in Gibraltar dating back more than 39,000 years is the earliest example of cave art of the Neanderthals, with researchers suggesting that these extinct cousins ​​of modern humans were also capable of abstraction. AFP PHOTO/ Stewart Finlayson.

February 25, 2015                                   New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

OH NO …

In a previous post, “DID ABSTRACT ART EXIST 35,000 YEARS AGO? – THE CHAUVET CAVE“,  it appears that abstract art existed some 35,000 years ago. Then, in another post, “‘THE HAND OF THE DANCER” * – Cave Paintings in Indonesia Change Ideas about the Origin and Age of Oldest Art,” we reported that the earliest known cave paintings date back 40,000 years. “Early artists made them by carefully blowing paint around hands that were pressed tightly against the cave walls and ceilings. The oldest is at least 40,000 years old.” Now, it appears that “Abstract Art” was invented some 39,000 years ago – by the Neanderthals.

As reported by Art Daily,

“The discovery of geometric shapes carved into a cave in Gibraltar dating back more than 39,000 years is the earliest example of cave art of the Neanderthals, with researchers suggesting that these extinct cousins ​​of modern humans were also capable of abstraction.”

“Markings dating back 40,000 years suggest Neanderthals were considerably more sophisticated than previously thought, researchers say. They reached their conclusions after the discovery of engravings deep in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar — the first Neanderthal cave etchings found anywhere in the world. Are the deep grooves of horizontal and vertical criss-crossing lines art? Archaeologists are refusing to go that far, but they say, it shows Neanderthals — contrary to long-held beliefs — did possess the capacity for abstract thought and expression.”

“The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The paper, “‘A rock engraving made by Neanderthals in Gibraltar,‘” was authored by a team that included specialists in the Neanderthal field such as professors Joaquin Rodriguez-Vidal, Francesco d’Errico and Francisco Giles Pacheco.

“‘The production of purposely made painted or engraved designs on cave walls is recognized as a major cognitive step in human evolution, considered exclusive to modern humans,” the authors wrote. D’Errico, of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), called it “the first example of cave art, an abstract representation made by Neanderthals and deeply engraved in the rock in a part of the cave they lived in.'”

Watch the video.

gorham's cave

 

“The carving, discovered after years of excavation at Gorham’s Cave, was eventually found beneath a Neanderthal sediment level that was itself discovered below a modern human sediment level. It was the first area of bedrock that was exposed by the researchers, suggesting there may be other engravings yet to be discovered. Not a casual mark Researchers also tried to learn how Neanderthals might have made the engraving.”

EFFORT REQUIRED

“‘They used stone Neanderthal tools to show that each groove required consistent, repetitive strokes in a single direction. “To produce one of the grooves required 60 strokes, always in one direction,” Finlayson said, adding that the whole of the etching required up to 317 strokes. “We were immediately showing that this was not a casual mark. This required effort.'”

“Close examination of the same cave in Gibraltar revealed that Neanderthals may have caught, butchered and cooked wild pigeons long before modern humans became regular consumers of bird meat, a study earlier this month said. Other recent studies have shown that in addition to meat, Neanderthals ate vegetables, berries and nuts, that they took care of their elders and used sophisticated bone tools.

“An enigmatic branch of the human family tree, Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and Middle East for up to 300,000 years but vanished from the fossil record about 30-40,000 years ago.”

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

 

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4 comments on “DID THE NEANDERTHALS INVENT ABSTRACT ART [SOME 39,000 YEARS AGO] ?

  1. I always suspected the late Sam Francis may have been around during Neanderthal times. Seriously, I believe the concept of abstract art has been around for thousands of years. Nothing new here MOMA!

  2. Great post. The neanderthals have always been sophisticated. It’s only because we have been too primitive in our understanding that we have failed to see it. Looking forward to next Wednesday’s. Best wishes.

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