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Earth Science

Did Neandertals Paint Early Cave Art? 126

Posted by timothy
from the everyone's-a-critic dept.
sciencehabit writes "Dating experts working in Spain, using a technique relatively new to archaeology, have pushed dates for the earliest cave art back some 4000 years to at least 41,000 years ago, raising the possibility that the artists were Neandertals rather than modern humans. And a few researchers say that the study argues for the slow development of artistic skill over tens of thousands of years — not a swift acquisition of talent, as some had argued."
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Did Neandertals Paint Early Cave Art?

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  • Over hyped (Score:3, Interesting)

    by micheas (231635) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @12:29AM (#40349433) Homepage Journal

    The artwork dates to when neanderthals were in Europe, but not before the earliest evidence of homo sapiens in Europe.

    It seems unlikely that the art was done by neanderthals, and if it was it was probably done by neanderthals imitating homo sapiens. (there is a reason that "to ape' means to copy.

    I make this assumption based on the fact that cave art seems to show up with other evince of homo sapiens, but there have been no finds of cave art that are dated earlier than any evidence of humans.

    Also, the theory of complexity of art is obviously pulled out of said scientists arses . Scientists that claim that an drawing of a circle as art predates recognizable drawings of the physical world are obviously more recent need to take a look at the verifiable date of the Mona Lisa, and any single geometric shape at a MOMA and explain why their hypothosis that directly contradicts verifiable data about artwork should be viewed as anything other than B.S.

  • Re:Over hyped (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @01:09AM (#40349543) Homepage Journal

    The artwork dates to when neanderthals were in Europe, but not before the earliest evidence of homo sapiens in Europe.

    It seems unlikely that the art was done by neanderthals, and if it was it was probably done by neanderthals imitating homo sapiens. (there is a reason that "to ape' means to copy.

    I make this assumption based on the fact that cave art seems to show up with other evince of homo sapiens, but there have been no finds of cave art that are dated earlier than any evidence of humans.

    You come across as very prejudiced and biased - and also wrong.
    TFA states that this happened at least 41,000 years ago, and the oldest human (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) remains found in Europe is no more than 36,000 years old.

    Another issue is that you can't apply a dualistic "either/or" - humans of European heritage have from 1-4% Neanderthal DNA. While this isn't a significant portion, it does show that interbreeding was possible and happened, and there must have been fertile individuals who were 50% of each.
    But based solely on the age, the evidence points more towards Neanderthals than modern man.

  • Re:mdash (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2012 @03:46AM (#40350101)

    Neandertal is and has always been the correct spelling. It's nothing new. It's from the German, from the place where they were first discovered, the Neander Valley, or Neander "Tal" ('Tal' means valley in German). However, in German it is common and appropriate to combine words to form compound nouns, as Fahrrad, (from 'fahrt', a trip, and 'rad', wheel) or Schadenfreude (from 'Schade', sadness, and 'Freude', joy). Hence, the words are combined to form the place-name of Neandertal. The spelling with the 'h' is anglicized, technically Neandertal is correct, inasmuch as it is the original name, from the original language.

    Why not educate yourself before correcting other people's spelling, smart-ass...

  • Re:Probably not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Sunday June 17, 2012 @03:57AM (#40350145) Homepage Journal

    There is also very little in common between the earliest cave art attributed to Homo Sapiens and any of the cave art attributed to Neanderthals - very different styles, very different formats, very different in nature all round.

    The paintings in France also include proto-writing next to the paintings, but no such symbols exist here.

    Most important of all, the paintings attributed to Neanderthals include fish that Neanderthals ate at the time and Homo Sapiens did not.

    So if Neanderthals are present and Homo Sapiens are not, we've opportunity taken care of.
    Neanderthals had been mucking around with ochre at the time, Homo Sapiens didn't utilize it for a long time after, so that's means.
    The pictures show Neanderthal food not Homo Sapien food, which gives motive.
    No proto-writing and no utilization of the 3D nature of the rock surface means no continuity with the French cave paintings, so Homo Sapiens are sans continuity.

    I'd say that nails it.

  • Re:mdash (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2012 @09:35AM (#40351337)

    It's a nice echo of "And yet it moves" attributed to Galileo, albeit fictitiously.

    Nothing wrong an "And" at the start of a sentence, or even a whole work, e.g. Blake's Jerusalem ("And did those feet ...")

    P.S. Captcha: writable

  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday June 18, 2012 @05:20AM (#40357643) Homepage Journal

    The handprints, perhaps, but the pictures of fish were somewhat more stylized and were definitely not stencil-based. I'd consider those abstractions and therefore art at its most simplistic. Much more crucially, though, it's stuff with a totally different intent.

    If you're saying the Neanderthal pictures were extremely simplistic and lacked any obvious "thought"* - they were depictions at a very mechanical level - then I'd totally agree. If you're saying the French pictures showed enormous thought and mindfulness - even in the kiddy training area (there was a section set aside to train kids on painting) - then again I'd totally agree. There was an incredible level of sentience involved.

    If we go apples-to-apples, there were sections of the French caves that had hand paintings. But they showed awareness and no small amount of ingenuity. Several would have required platforms to be set up, for example. Not easy in such a confined space.

    And, yes, if IQ is generalized as the ration of what a person can think/know vs what you'd expect of them, we can get a feel for their IQ. I'd consider proto-flipbook animation, haziness to depict motion, and relief to convey stereoscopic images to be well above the 48% above the average person of the time, and an IQ of 148 is all MENSA requires. So if you want to call the French painters geniuses I'd have to agree.

    *Given that Neanderthals diverged from homo sapiens so far back, it is possible that their thought processes are too alien for modern humans to comprehend, that we're looking for the wrong signals, the wrong visual cues. It is possible. Unlikely, though, but possible. Doesn't really alter the conclusion, though, which is that it wasn't a Homo Sapien mindset. Whatever it was or wasn't, it wasn't that. This raises an intriguing side-question, though - how WOULD we recognize art from an alien mind?

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