Communion Of Dreams

Without art, …
October 14, 2011, 10:21 am
Filed under: Art, Science, tech

I’ve always loved Tery Fugate-Wilcox’s phrase “Without art, we are but monkeys with car keys.”

And it looks like you can push that differentiation back a lot further than we previously thought:

Ancient ‘paint factory’ unearthed

The kits used by humans 100,000 years ago to make paint have been found at the famous archaeological site of Blombos Cave in South Africa.

The hoard includes red and yellow pigments, shell containers, and the grinding cobbles and bone spatulas to work up a paste – everything an ancient artist might need in their workshop.

This extraordinary discovery is reported in the journal Science.

It is proof, say researchers, of our early ancestors’ complexity of thought.

“This is significant because it is pushing back the boundaries of our understanding of when Homo sapiens – people like us – first became modern,” said Prof Christopher Henshilwood from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

There has been other evidence of early human art, shell jewelry and carvings which date back almost as far. But this latest discovery shows a level of planning and preparation which clearly indicate complex thought – it is the difference between a toddler picking up a rock and marking a wall and someone finding just the right rock, crushing it, adding in several other quite different but necessary ingredients in the proper proportions, mixing them all together in order to make a paint with which to mark the same wall.


Jim Downey

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