Cave & Rock Art

ramonmercado

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First Painters May Have Been Neanderthal, Not Human
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/ ... paintings/
By Brandon KeimEmail Author June 14, 2012 | 2:10 pm | Categories: Anthropology, Brains and Behavior

European cave paintings are older than previously thought, raising the possibility that Neanderthals rather than Homo sapiens were the earliest painters.

That’s not yet certain: The paintings may have been made by humans at an unexpectedly early date, which would itself raise intriguing questions, though none so tantalizing as Neanderthal painters.

“It would not be surprising if the Neanderthals were indeed Europe’s first cave artists,” said João Zilhão, an archaeologist at Spain’s University of Barcelona, at a press conference on June 13.


Researchers led by Zilhão and Alistair Pike of the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol measured the ages of 50 paintings in 11 Spanish caves. The art, considered evidence of sophisticated symbolic thinking, has traditionally been attributed to modern humans, who reached Europe about 40,000 years ago.

Traditional methods of dating cave paintings, however, are relatively clumsy. Even the previous best technique — carbon dating, or translating amounts of carbon molecule decay into measurements of passing time — couldn’t discern differences of a few thousand years.

Instead of carbon, Pike and João Zilhão’s team calibrated their molecular clocks by studying mineral deposits that form naturally on cave surfaces, including paintings. The thicker the deposits, the older the painting. And as the researchers describe in a June 14 Science paper, some of the paintings are very old indeed.

"Anyone ... could walk into El Castillo cave and see a Neanderthal hand on the wall."
– Alistair Pike
Some handprint outlines are at least 37,000 years old. Several red circles are at least 41,000 years old and may be several thousand years older. That’s 10,000 years older than paintings in France, which until now were considered the oldest cave art.
If H. sapiens made the Spanish paintings, they would have needed to arrive in Europe already possessing a symbolic art tradition, something for which there’s no other evidence.

Alternatively, humans may have arrived in Europe and promptly learned to paint, raising the question of why such an important cultural leap occurred so suddenly, in that particular place. Maybe something about the environment, such as competition with Neanderthals, made symbolic thinking important.

Or — and this is still just a hypothesis, one that needs to be tested by dating of many more paintings — the artists were not human. Maybe they were Neanderthals.

If so, the paintings would be a pièce de résistance addition to a decade of Neanderthal research that’s showed how our closest evolutionary relatives, long considered less intelligent than humans, were truly sophisticated thinkers capable of symbolism, social planning and empathy. Paintings would provide the last bit of evidence needed to throw out the image of Neanderthals as archetypally dumb, Zilhao said.

“What’s really exciting about this possibility,” said Pike, “is that anyone, because it’s open to the public, could walk into El Castillo cave and see a Neanderthal hand on the wall.”

First Image: The Panel of Hands in El Castillo Cave, Spain. The hand stencils are dated to 37,300 years old and the red disk to 40,600 years old, making them the oldest European cave paintings. (Photo: Pedro Saura) [High-resolution]

Citation: “U-Series Dating of Paleolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain.” By A. W. G. Pike, D. L. Hoffmann, M. García-Diez, P. B. Pettitt, J. Alcolea, R. De Balbín, C. González-Sainz, C. de las Heras, J. A. Lasheras, R. Montes, J. Zilhão. Science, Vol. 336 Issue 6087, June 15 2012.
 

Analogue Boy

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From a red dot on a cave wall to Damian Hirst's dot paintings.

We've come a long way in 40,000 years.
 

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Gower cave reindeer carving is Britain's oldest rock art
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-sout ... s-18648683

The engraving may be the oldest rock art in north-western Europe

Related Stories

In Pictures: Rock art in Wales
Red dot becomes 'oldest cave art'
'Exciting' Ice Age rock art find

A reindeer engraved on the wall of a cave in south Wales has been confirmed as the oldest known rock art in Britain.

The image in Cathole Cave on Gower, south Wales was created at least 14,000 years ago, said Bristol University.

Archaeologist Dr George Nash found the engraving while exploring a rear section of the cave in September 2010.

He said uranium dating showed it was the oldest rock art in the British Isles, if not north-western Europe.

The reindeer was engraved over a mineral deposit known as a speleothem, carved using a sharp-pointed tool, probably made of flint, by an artist using his or her right hand.

The animal's elongated torso has been infilled with irregular-spaced vertical and diagonal lines, whilst the legs and stylised antlers comprise simple lines.

Red Lady of Paviland
The minimum date is around 12,500 BC or 14,500 BP (years before present, which is terminology used by archaelogists), with a plus or minus of 560 years.

"The earlier date is comparable with uranium-series dating of flowstone that covers engraved figures within Church Hole Cave at Creswell along the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border," said Dr Nash, from Bristol University's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology.

"However, the new minimum date of 14,505 plus or minus 560 years BP makes the engraved reindeer in south Wales the oldest rock art in the British Isles, if not north-western Europe."

The limestone cliffs along the Gower coast are known for their archaeological importance.

The Red Lady of Paviland, actually the remains of a young man, is the earliest formal human burial to have been found in western Europe, around 29,000 years old.

It was discovered at Goat's Hole Cave at Paviland on Gower in 1823 by William Buckland, then a geology professor at Oxford University.

Earlier in June, a team from Bristol University confirmed that cave art discovered in El Castillo, Spain, was the oldest in Europe at more than 40,000 years old.
 

oldrover

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Well I'm pleased that it turned out to be that age, initially they said it was only 12,500 years old.

Haven't been down to see it again this year yet, probably pop down next week. Though the fact that they've released the name of the cave, although it was easy to work out from last year's article, probably means they've probably gated it off.

And the Pavilland burial is actually 33,000+ not 29,000 as stated in the article.

Thanks for posting that ramonmercado I'd missed this.
 

ramonmercado

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Artists today? Not a patch on Ugh.

Cavemen were better at drawing animals than modern artists
December 5th, 2012 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

This is a prehistoric illustration of an elephant from the Libian Tadrart Acacus. Credit: Citation: Horvath G, Farkas E, Boncz I, Blaho M, Kriska G (2012) Cavemen Were Better at Depicting Quadruped Walking than Modern Artists: Erroneous Walking Illustrations in the Fine Arts from Prehistory to Today. PLoS ONE 7(12): e49786. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049786

Prehistoric artists were better at portraying the walk of four-legged animals in their art than modern man, according to new research published December 5 in the open access journal PLoS ONE by Gabor Horvath and colleagues from Eotvos University (Budapest), Hungary.

Most quadrupeds have a similar sequence in which they move each limb as they walk, trot or run, and this sequence was studied and outlined in the early 1880s by Eadweard Muybridge. The authors examined prehistoric and modern artwork ranging from cave paintings of cows and elephants to statues and paintings of horses, elephants and other quadrupeds in motion to see how well these artistic depictions matched the scientific observations of animal motion.

They found that the majority of depictions of these animals walking or trotting had their legs incorrectly positioned, but the prehistoric paintings had the lowest error rates of 46.2%, whereas modern pre-Muybridgean art depicted animal motion incorrectly 83.5% of the time. This error rate decreased to 57.9% after 1887. Whether these differences were due to artistic license with imagery or lack of understanding of animal movement isn't clear, say the authors.

More information: Horvath G, Farkas E, Boncz I, Blaho M, Kriska G (2012) Cavemen Were Better at Depicting Quadruped Walking than Modern Artists: Erroneous Walking Illustrations in the Fine Arts from Prehistory to Today.
PLoS ONE 7(12): e49786. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049786

Provided by Public Library of Science

"Cavemen were better at drawing animals than modern artists." December 5th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-12-cavemen-an ... tists.html
 

oldrover

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I could have started a new thread entitled 'THE BASTARDS!', but I won't as this subject has already come up on this thread.

I took two visitors down to Cat Hole today to show them the engraving, when we arrived though, the whole bloody cave was fenced off. I understand that it needs to be protected and that's fine, but people have been freely going in and out of there for, as the engraving proved, thousands of years, surely a bit of perspex would have been enough. If not and they absolutely can't bear the thought of the public seeing it, then why not just fence off the small side chamber it's in.

It's as if now that they've found something of value that they can't remove from there, they don't think it's fitting for the public to be able to see.

We've lost a little bit of the wild, I'm really bloody offended by this.
 

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Cave paintings in Mexico: Carvings uncovered in Burgos
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22632301

Archaeologists found more than 1,500 paintings in one cave of the Burgos region

Archaeologists in Mexico have found 4,926 well-preserved cave paintings in the north-eastern region of Burgos.

The images in red, yellow, black and white depict humans, animals and insects, as well as skyscapes and abstract scenes.

The paintings were found in 11 different sites - but the walls of one cave were covered with 1,550 scenes.

The area in which they were found was previously thought not to have been inhabited by ancient cultures.


The paintings suggest that at least three groups of hunter-gatherers dwelled in the San Carlos mountain range.

Experts have not yet been able to date the paintings, but hope to chemically analyse their paint to find out their approximate age.

'No objects'
"We have not found any ancient objects linked to the context, and because the paintings are on ravine walls and in the rainy season the sediments are washed away, all we have is gravel," said archaeologist Gustavo Ramirez, from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (Inah).

In one of the caves, the experts found depictions of the atlatl, a pre-Hispanic hunting weapon that had not yet been seen in other paintings in the Tamaulipas state.


The paintings are being considered an important find because they document the presence of pre-Hispanic peoples in a region where "before it was said that nothing was there", Mr Ramirez said.

Another archaeologist involved in the Inah study, Martha Garcia Sanchez, said that very little is known about the cultures who dwelled in Tamaulipas.

"These groups escaped the Spanish rule for 200 years because they fled to the Sierra de San Carlos where they had water, plants and animals to feed themselves," she said.

The findings were presented during the second meeting of Historic Archaeology, in Mexico's National History Museum.
 

ramonmercado

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Were Paleolithic Cave Painters High on Psychedelic Drugs?
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/paleolith ... paging=off

Scientists Propose Ingenious Theory for Why They Might Have Been
Science finds evidence of a biological-hallucinogenic basis for seeing geometric patterns.
July 8, 2013 |

Prehistoric cave paintings across the continents have similar geometric patterns not because early humans were learning to draw like Paleolithic pre-schoolers, but because they were high on drugs, and their brains—like ours—have a biological predisposition to "see" certain patterns, especially during consciousness altering states.

This thesis—that humanity’s earliest artists were not just reeling due to mind-altering activities, but deliberately sought those elevated states and gave greater meaning to those common visions—is the contention of a new paper by an international research team.

Their thesis intriguingly explores the “biologically embodied mind,” which they contend gave rise to similarities in Paleolithic art across the continents dating back 40,000 years, and can also be seen in the body painting patterns dating back even further, according to recent archelogical discoveries.

At its core, this theory challenges the long-held notion that the earliest art and atrists were merely trying to draw the external world. Instead, it sees cave art as a deliberate mix of rituals inducing altered states for participants, coupled with brain chemistry that elicits certain visual patterns for humanity’s early chroniclers.

Put another way, if Jackson Pollock could get drunk and make his splatter paintings while his his head was spinning, primitive men and women could eat pyschedelic plants and commence painting on cave walls—in part, presenting the patterns prompted by brain biochemistry but seen as having super-sensory significance.

“The prevalence of certain geometric patterns in the symbolic material culture of many prehistoric cultures, starting shortly after the emergence of our biological species and continuing in some indigenous cultures until today, is explained in terms of the characteristic contents of biologically determined hallucinatory experience,” the researchers hypothesize.

Of course, you can’t just posit that cave painters were doing prehistoric drugs without raising a few questions, such as why they gravitated—and kept gravitating—to the same kinds of shapes? The scientists start by citing decades-old research exploring drug use in indigenous cultures that suggest some hallucinations are induced by the brain seeing “neural” patterns—literally the cellular structure of brains.

“Researchers also generally claim that the geometric hallucinations experienced by the subject are mental representations of these neural patterns,” they write. “However, while these neural models are capable of reproducing some of the geometric patterns that are found in prehistoric art and non-ordinary visual experiences, their range remains severely limited.”

So brain biology plays a role, but it’s not enough to account for ancient pop art taste and trends! The brain might be generating the same kinds of patterns, but the early artist-shamans went further. Like many consciousness-exploring humans today, apparently they not only liked what they saw and created rituals to inspire their art, but they also believed that what they saw was more special than than the grind of their daily lives.

“We speculate that the self-sustaining dynamics may account for why these geometric hallucinations were experienced as more significant than other phenomena, and that at the same time their underlying neural dynamics may have served to mediate and facilitate a form of imaginary sense-making that is not bound to immediate surroundings,” the scientists say.

Translated, that knotty sentence comes down to this: The cave painters had rituals that involved taking drugs (undoubtedly plants) that they consumed in a frenzy to get to this creative state. This behavior and the same results were noted by 1960s-era academics studying the effects of peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus found in North America.

“The non-ordinary visual experiences were often characterized by similar kinds of abstract geometric patterns, which he classified into four categories of form constants: (1) gratings, lattices, fretworks, filigrees, honeycombs, and checkerboards; (2) cobwebs; (3) tunnels and funnels, alleys, cones, vessels; and (4) spirals,” they write, citing peyote research. “Intriguingly, these form constants turned out to resemble many of the abstract motifs that are often associated with prehistoric art from around the world, including Paleolithic cave art in Europe.”

But why would people across continents and cultures be drawn to record the same shapes?

“Of course, it still remains to be explained why these particular motifs were highly regarded by the artists and how these people became artists capable of symbolic expression in the first place,” they write. “It makes sense to investigate whether the biological mechanisms underlying the production of these visual phenomena is amenable to an analysis in terms of Turing instabilities [a scientific name for biochemical reaction in the brain that ties it to a propensity for certain patterns].”

The paper gets very technical, but the images that are said to be generated by specific neural centers tied to images do resemble the templates for lots of 1960s poster artists, such as Peter Max and San Francisco’s psychedelic rock scene.

Why did they gravitate to these patterns? Because the imagery was seen or sensed while having a super-sensory experience and therefore seemed to be imbued with cosmic significance. Put another way, people who are high as kites tend to find magic in simple details.

“When these visual patterns are seen during altered states of consciousness they are directly experienced as highly charged with significance,” they posit. “In other words, the patterns are directly perceived as somehow meaningful and thereby offer themselves as salient motifs for use in rituals.”

The scientists admit that straighter-laced science is not quite ready for this explanation.

“Clearly, neurophenomenology is currently not advanced enough to explain the particular content of these experiences, but it does successfully explain why the experiences are characterized by such an intensely felt significance,” they write.

The paper is fascinating. For one, if it’s true—and why not?—one can posit that humanity has evolved. All one needs to do is open a book on the art from the ongoing Burning Man festivals in the Nevada desert. Much of the expression there seems to be a consequence of a deliberate process of consciousness-expanding ritual and subsequent creartivity. And compared to cave walls, it’s a bit more diverse and rarified.

Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).
 

GNC

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I've heard the joke about children's TV show makers being on drugs often enough, but this is going too far (back).
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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ramonmercado said:
Were Paleolithic Cave Painters High on Psychedelic Drugs?
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/paleolith ... paging=off

Scientists Propose Ingenious Theory for Why They Might Have Been
Science finds evidence of a biological-hallucinogenic basis for seeing geometric patterns.
July 8, 2013 |

Prehistoric cave paintings across the continents have similar geometric patterns not because early humans were learning to draw like Paleolithic pre-schoolers, but because they were high on drugs, and their brains—like ours—have a biological predisposition to "see" certain patterns, especially during consciousness altering states.

This thesis—that humanity’s earliest artists were not just reeling due to mind-altering activities, but deliberately sought those elevated states and gave greater meaning to those common visions—is the contention of a new paper by an international research team.

Their thesis intriguingly explores the “biologically embodied mind,” which they contend gave rise to similarities in Paleolithic art across the continents dating back 40,000 years, and can also be seen in the body painting patterns dating back even further, according to recent archelogical discoveries.

At its core, this theory challenges the long-held notion that the earliest art and atrists were merely trying to draw the external world. Instead, it sees cave art as a deliberate mix of rituals inducing altered states for participants, coupled with brain chemistry that elicits certain visual patterns for humanity’s early chroniclers.

Put another way, if Jackson Pollock could get drunk and make his splatter paintings while his his head was spinning, primitive men and women could eat pyschedelic plants and commence painting on cave walls—in part, presenting the patterns prompted by brain biochemistry but seen as having super-sensory significance.

“The prevalence of certain geometric patterns in the symbolic material culture of many prehistoric cultures, starting shortly after the emergence of our biological species and continuing in some indigenous cultures until today, is explained in terms of the characteristic contents of biologically determined hallucinatory experience,” the researchers hypothesize.

Of course, you can’t just posit that cave painters were doing prehistoric drugs without raising a few questions, such as why they gravitated—and kept gravitating—to the same kinds of shapes? The scientists start by citing decades-old research exploring drug use in indigenous cultures that suggest some hallucinations are induced by the brain seeing “neural” patterns—literally the cellular structure of brains.

“Researchers also generally claim that the geometric hallucinations experienced by the subject are mental representations of these neural patterns,” they write. “However, while these neural models are capable of reproducing some of the geometric patterns that are found in prehistoric art and non-ordinary visual experiences, their range remains severely limited.”

So brain biology plays a role, but it’s not enough to account for ancient pop art taste and trends! The brain might be generating the same kinds of patterns, but the early artist-shamans went further. Like many consciousness-exploring humans today, apparently they not only liked what they saw and created rituals to inspire their art, but they also believed that what they saw was more special than than the grind of their daily lives.

“We speculate that the self-sustaining dynamics may account for why these geometric hallucinations were experienced as more significant than other phenomena, and that at the same time their underlying neural dynamics may have served to mediate and facilitate a form of imaginary sense-making that is not bound to immediate surroundings,” the scientists say.

Translated, that knotty sentence comes down to this: The cave painters had rituals that involved taking drugs (undoubtedly plants) that they consumed in a frenzy to get to this creative state. This behavior and the same results were noted by 1960s-era academics studying the effects of peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus found in North America.

“The non-ordinary visual experiences were often characterized by similar kinds of abstract geometric patterns, which he classified into four categories of form constants: (1) gratings, lattices, fretworks, filigrees, honeycombs, and checkerboards; (2) cobwebs; (3) tunnels and funnels, alleys, cones, vessels; and (4) spirals,” they write, citing peyote research. “Intriguingly, these form constants turned out to resemble many of the abstract motifs that are often associated with prehistoric art from around the world, including Paleolithic cave art in Europe.”

But why would people across continents and cultures be drawn to record the same shapes?

“Of course, it still remains to be explained why these particular motifs were highly regarded by the artists and how these people became artists capable of symbolic expression in the first place,” they write. “It makes sense to investigate whether the biological mechanisms underlying the production of these visual phenomena is amenable to an analysis in terms of Turing instabilities [a scientific name for biochemical reaction in the brain that ties it to a propensity for certain patterns].”

The paper gets very technical, but the images that are said to be generated by specific neural centers tied to images do resemble the templates for lots of 1960s poster artists, such as Peter Max and San Francisco’s psychedelic rock scene.

Why did they gravitate to these patterns? Because the imagery was seen or sensed while having a super-sensory experience and therefore seemed to be imbued with cosmic significance. Put another way, people who are high as kites tend to find magic in simple details.

“When these visual patterns are seen during altered states of consciousness they are directly experienced as highly charged with significance,” they posit. “In other words, the patterns are directly perceived as somehow meaningful and thereby offer themselves as salient motifs for use in rituals.”

The scientists admit that straighter-laced science is not quite ready for this explanation.

“Clearly, neurophenomenology is currently not advanced enough to explain the particular content of these experiences, but it does successfully explain why the experiences are characterized by such an intensely felt significance,” they write.

The paper is fascinating. For one, if it’s true—and why not?—one can posit that humanity has evolved. All one needs to do is open a book on the art from the ongoing Burning Man festivals in the Nevada desert. Much of the expression there seems to be a consequence of a deliberate process of consciousness-expanding ritual and subsequent creartivity. And compared to cave walls, it’s a bit more diverse and rarified.

Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).
I'm surprised that it's taken these 'scientists' so long to cotton on. :lol:
 

eburacum

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The idea is quite an old one, and I remember it being around back in the 70's - the 'altered states' theory, one might call it, although whether psychomimetic drugs were more important than the effects of starving themselves and other ordeals I wouldn't like to say.
 

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There's a very good book on the subject: The Mind in the Cave, by David Lewis-Williams.
 

ramonmercado

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October 9, 2013 11:38 am
Ancient Women Artists May Be Responsible for Most Cave Ar

Photo: Xipe Totec39

Since cave art often depicts game species, a subject near and dear to hunters, most researchers have assumed that the people behind this mysterious artwork must have been male. But new research suggests that’s not right: when scientists looked closely at a sample of hand stencils, a common motif in cave art, they concluded that about three-quarters were actually drawn by women.

What they looked at, specifically, was the lengths of fingers in drawings from eight caves in France and Spain, National Geographic writes. Biologists established rules of thumb for general differences between men and women’s hand structure about a decade ago.

Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

[Archeologist Dean] Snow ran the numbers through an algorithm that he had created based on a reference set of hands from people of European descent who lived near his university. Using several measurements—such as the length of the fingers, the length of the hand, the ratio of ring to index finger, and the ratio of index finger to little finger—the algorithm could predict whether a given handprint was male or female. Because there is a lot of overlap between men and women, however, the algorithm wasn’t especially precise: It predicted the sex of Snow’s modern sample with about 60 percent accuracy.

The 32 hand prints he found in the caves, however, were more pronounced in their differences than those of the modern men and women he sampled. Based upon the model and measurements, he found that 75 percent of the hands belonged to women.

National Geographic points out that the mystery is far from definitively solved. While some hail the new study as a “landmark contribution,” others are more skeptical. Another researcher recently studied the palm-to-thumb ratio of the hand prints and concluded they mostly belonged to teenage boys, who, he told NatGeo, often drew their two favorite topics: big powerful animals and naked ladies.



Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartne ... z2hGjiJMNX
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter
 

rynner2

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Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.
Strange for me that this should crop up today - I had a fragment of a dream last night where the ring finger of my left hand was abnormally long, even longer than the middle finger!

I went to bed before this article was posted. But I wasn't sleeping well, so I put the radio on several times. Perhaps this cave art theory was mentioned on the radio, and my dozing brain turned it into a dream...?
 

ramonmercado

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Scumbags destroying our ancient heritage.

How to steal a cave painting: Thieves damage 5,000-yo rock in Spain

A damaged rock painting in Los Escolares Cave (image by @puertanatura)

A 5,000 year old rock painting in the cave defined as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in southern Spanish Andalusia, has been “irreparably” damaged by thieves who tried to steal an artwork by cutting it out of a rock.

The painting located in Los Escolares Cave in Jaen province is now “irreparable,” said local mayor Juan Caminero, Spanish daily La Vanguardia reported.

Caminero condemned the act, calling it “heartless,” adding that local residents are outraged over the accident as the historic site was untouched by man for at least 5,000 years.

The damage was noticed Saturday morning by a group of visitors in Despenaperros National Park of municipality Santa Elena where the cave is located.

The visitors saw rock fragments and fine dust while the painting itself looked like if someone was trying to cut out the artwork with a pick-ax.

Meanwhile, Spanish Civil Guard has already started investigating the case.

Los Escolares Cave was discovered 41 years ago on March 3, 1973, by a group of scholars. The cave is a small hole in the rock, about 1.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep.

It is a part of a huge caves ensemble of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The series of late prehistoric paintings in these caves provide an exceptional picture of human life in a seminal period of human cultural evolution, according to UNESCO.

The images, depicting hunting activities, combats and executions, were mostly painted in red, black and white in the caves.

Jaen province has at least 42 UNESCO World Heritage sites and along with Cordoba, Almeria, Granada, Malaga and Cadiz, is considered one of the most important areas of prehistoric archaeology.

However, according to the Speleology Federation of Andalusia (FAE), a great majority of the prehistoric caves of Andalucía are not protected and their conservation is in danger.

"A lot of these places are abandoned and need greater supervision," FAE president José Antonio Berrocal told The Local. "Although there is legislation protecting these sites in theory, there is a lack of political will."

The region needs “a system of continuous monitoring with officers coming around periodically to monitor the situation,” he said. "In some cases, closing off those caves may be the only option to protect world heritage paintings.”
http://rt.com/news/spain-thieves-caves-steal-936/
 

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Cave paintings change ideas about the origin of art
By Pallab Ghosh, Science correspondent, BBC News

Scientists have identified some of the earliest cave paintings produced by humans.
The artworks are in a rural area on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.
Until now, paintings this old had been confirmed in caves only in Western Europe.
Researchers tell the journal Nature that the Indonesian discovery transforms ideas about how humans first developed the ability to produce art.

Australian and Indonesian scientists have dated layers of stalactite-like growths that have formed over coloured outlines of human hands.
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.

There are also human figures, and pictures of wild hoofed animals that are found only on the island. Dr Maxime Aubert, of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, who dated the paintings found in Maros in Southern Sulawesi, explained that one of them (shown immediately below) was probably the earliest of its type.

At the top of the worn painting is a faint outline of a human hand. Below it is possibly the earliest depiction of an animal
"The minimum age for (the outline of the hand) is 39,900 years old, which makes it the oldest hand stencil in the world," said Dr Aubert.

"Next to it is a pig that has a minimum age of 35,400 years old, and this is one of the oldest figurative depictions in the world, if not the oldest one," he told BBC News.
There are also paintings in the caves that are around 27,000 years old, which means that the inhabitants were painting for at least 13,000 years.

In addition, there are paintings in a cave in the regency of Bone, 100 km north of Maros. These cannot be dated because the stalactite-like growths used to determine the age of the art do not occur. But the researchers believe that they are probably the same age as the paintings in Maros because they are stylistically identical.

The discovery of the Indonesian cave art is important because it shows the beginnings of human intelligence as we understand it today.
Art and the ability to think of abstract concepts is what distinguishes our species from other animals - capabilities that also led us to use fire, develop the wheel and come up with the other technologies that have made our kind so successful.
Its emergence, therefore, marks one of the key moments when our species became truly human.

The dating of the art in Sulawesi will mean that ideas about when and where this pivotal moment in our evolution occurred will now have to be revised.

....

For decades, the only evidence of ancient cave art was in Spain and southern France. It led some to believe that the creative explosion that led to the art and science we know today began in Europe.
But the discovery of paintings of a similar age in Indonesia shatters this view, according to Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

"It is a really important find; it enables us to get away from this Euro-centric view of a creative explosion that was special to Europe and did not develop in other parts of the world until much later," he said.

The discovery of 40,000-year-old cave paintings at opposite ends of the globe suggests that the ability to create representational art had its origins further back in time in Africa, before modern humans spread across the rest of the world.

"That's kind of my gut feeling," says Prof Stringer. "The basis for this art was there 60,000 years ago; it may even have been there in Africa before 60,000 years ago and it spread with modern humans".

Dr Adam Brumm, who is the co-leader of the Sulawesi research, believes many well-known sites in Asia, and as far away as Australia, contain art that is extremely old but which has not yet been accurately dated.
"If Sulawesi is anything to go by, where cave art was first recorded over half a century ago but was assumed to be young, a crucial part of the human story could be right under our noses" he said.

Dr Muhammad Ramli, an archaeologist working with the Makassar branch of Indonesia's Preservation for Heritage Office, said that the Sulawesian paintings in Maros were being eroded by the pollution coming from an upsurge in local industrial activities.
"In the beginning of the 1980s, there were a lot of cave paintings on this site in the form of hand stencils, as you can see right now. Presently, a lot has been damaged.
"There is a strong necessity to conduct conservation studies in order to find the best way of preserving these sites so that the paintings may last," he told BBC News.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29415716

Pics, etc, on page.
 

PeniG

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This is of course no surprise at all to those of us who've been following big-picture archeology for awhile. If it's human, it started earlier than currently believed; and it originated while we were confined to Africa.

You don't get more human than art.
 

Frideswide

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ramonmercado

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This could have gone in a few topics,

Ancient auditory illusions reflected in prehistoric art?

During the 168th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), to be held October 27-31, 2014 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel, Steven J. Waller, of Rock Art Acoustics, will describe several ways virtual sound images and absorbers can appear supernatural.

"Ancient mythology explained echoes from the mouths of caves as replies from spirits, so our ancestors may have made cave paintings in response to these echoes and their belief that echo spirits inhabited rocky places such as caves or canyons," explained Waller.

Just as light reflection gives an illusion of seeing yourself duplicated in a mirror, sound waves reflecting off a surface are mathematically identical to sound waves emanating from a virtual sound source behind a reflecting plane such as a large cliff face. "This can result in an auditory illusion of somebody answering you from within the rock," Waller said.

Echoes of clapping can sound similar to hoof beats, as Waller pointed out, while multiple echoes within a cavern can blur together into a thunderous reverberation that mimics the sound of a herd of stampeding hoofed animals. ...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 114714.htm
 

blessmycottonsocks

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The cave art from La Marche - Lussac is quite astonishing. I can understand why some people cannot believe it is 15,000 years old because of its relative sophistication, although some subsequent finds do seem to corroborate it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Marche_(cave)
 

ramonmercado

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A long-term study by an international team of researchers has led to findings that suggest drawings in the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave are approximately 10,000 years older than has been previously thought. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their study and the timeline of the cave they were able to build.

Chauvet-Pont d'Arc, in the Ardèche, southern France, has become famous for being the oldest known human decorated cave in the world. First discovered in 1994, the cave has since become a Unesco World Heritage Site—its walls are decorated with hand prints and drawings of 14 different species of animals including cave bears, wooly rhinos and several types of big cats. For many years, it was believed the cave paintings were made approximately 22,000–18,000 BC, now it appears the cave had a much longer and more varied history. In this new effort, the researchers used radio-carbon dating techniques on approximately 250 'objects' in the cave, over a span of 15 years. The objects included material used to draw animals, charcoal (from fires on the ground, in marks applied directly to the wall and from torch burns) and bones from an assortment of animals.

In analyzing the data, the researchers found they were able to create a time-line for the cave, which showed that it had been inhabited at least twice by early humans, and sometimes, by bears. They report that humans first inhabited the cave approximately 37,000 to 33,500 years ago and then again from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago. ...

http://phys.org/news/2016-04-radio-carbon-chauvet-pont-darc-cave-art.html
 

ramonmercado

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Cave art: Etchings hailed as 'Iberia's most spectacular'
_91929014_mediaitem91929013.jpg
Image copyrightAFP
Image captionHorses and goats can be seen in this portion of the 15m-long panel of etchings found in the Armintze cave, Lekeitio, in Biscay province
Cave art as much as 14,500 years old has been pronounced "the most spectacular and impressive" ever discovered on the Iberian peninsula.

About 50 etchings were found in the Basque town of Lekeitio.

They include horses, bison, goats and - in a radical departure from previously discovered Palaeolithic art in the Biscay province - two lions.

Some depictions are also much bigger than those found previously - with one horse about 150cm (4ft 11in) long.

"It is a wonder, a treasure of humanity," senior Biscay official Unai Rementeria said.

He was announcing the discovery, which was made in the Armintxe cave in May and has since been investigated by Biscay experts. ...

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37654544
 

ramonmercado

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An international team of anthropologists has uncovered a 38,000-year-old engraved image in a southwestern French rockshelter—a finding that marks some of the earliest known graphic imagery found in Western Eurasia and offers insights into the nature of modern humans during this period.

"The discovery sheds new light on regional patterning of art and ornamentation across Europe at a time when the first modern humans to enter Europe dispersed westward and northward across the continent," explains NYU anthropologist Randall White, who led the excavation in France's Vézère Valley.

The findings, which appear in the journal Quaternary International, center on the early modern humans' Aurignacian culture, which existed from approximately 43,000 to 33,000 years ago.

Abri Blanchard, the French site of the recently uncovered engraving, a slab bearing a complex image of an aurochs, or wild cow, surrounded by rows of dots, was previously excavated in the early 20th century. White and his team members began their methodical exploration of remaining deposits at the site in 2011, with the discovery occurring in 2012. ...

https://phys.org/news/2017-01-anthropologists-uncover-art-masters38000-year-old.html
 

ramonmercado

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Hunting dogs, hanging out with humans for a long time.

(Phys.org)—A combined team of researchers from Max Planck University and the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage has documented what might be the oldest depictions of dogs by human beings. In their paper published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology , the team describes the wall engravings and the means by which they attempted to date them.

Prior research has suggested that humans first arrived in what is now Saudi Arabia approximately 10,000 years ago. Those first visitors were believed to be hunter-gatherers—researchers have found images of them carved into stone walls in the area. Prior research has also found evidence that people in the area domesticated animals and became herders approximately 7000 to 8000 years ago. They, too, have been depicted in stone etchings, and researchers have also found the bones of some of their livestock. Now, it appears that during the time between these two periods, people may have domesticated dogs and used them to hunt other animals for food. This new evidence is part of a collection of stone carvings the team has been studying at two sites in Saudi Arabia: Jubbah and Shuwaymis.

https://phys.org/print430475252.html
 
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