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Did Neanderthals create the first Spanish cave paintings?

If they did, that’ll be even less reason to think of them as some kind of “missing link”: What if, long before Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, the Neanderthals were humanity’s first artists? At any rate, this is the hypothesis raised by new dating of Spanish rock paintings published in February 2018 in the journal Science (link is external),indicating that the hands and animals depicted on the walls of three caves date back 65,000 years. This would mean that they were painted 25,000 years before the arrival of the first Homo sapiens in the Iberian peninsula. The estimated ages are based on uranium-thorium dating of the calcite layer that coats the frescoes. Could these be the work of Neanderthals? A Read More ›

World’s oldest known painting, 40,000 years old, found in Borneo jungle

A thick-bodied animal in red ocher: Researchers have found older man-made images, but these were abstract patterns, such as crisscrossing lines. The switch to figurative art represented an important shift in how people thought about the world around them — and possibly themselves. Carl Zimmer, “In Cave in Borneo Jungle, Scientists Find Oldest Figurative Painting in the World” at New York Times We actually don’t know that there aren’t older painting (or newer crisscrossed lines). This one was only just found. The caves contain thousands of other images, including hand stencils, animals, abstract signs, and symbols: The animal appears to have a spear shaft stuck in its flank and is one of a series of similar red-orange coloured paintings, which Read More ›

Earliest known rock drawing at 73,000 years ago

A type of crosshatch etched in ocher: The discovery “helps round out the argument that Homo sapiens [at Blombos Cave] behaved essentially like us before 70,000 years ago,” says archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood of the University of Bergen in Norway. His team noticed the ancient drawing while examining thousands of stone fragments and tools excavated in 2011 from cave sediment. Other finds have included 100,000- to 70,000-year-old pigment chunks engraved with crosshatched and line designs (SN Online: 6/12/09), 100,000-year-old abalone shells containing remnants of a pigment-infused paint (SN: 11/19/11, p. 16) and shell beads from around the same time. Bruce Bower, “This South African cave stone may bear the world’s oldest drawing” at Science News Yes, the past is changing so fast we can’t keep Read More ›