January 27, 2022

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When art began as a game

On a distant day in an unspecified year, but still between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago, in Tibet, two children, perhaps as a toy, left their handprints, and even some of their feet, on the surface of a still-modern limestone. They finished the work when the composition seemed satisfactory to them. They could not have imagined that in the future they would attract the attention of archaeologists committed to deciphering the effects of the first artistic manifestations, the authors of one The study appeared in the journal Science, the early signers David Zhang (Guangzhou University, China) and Matthew Bennett (Bournemouth University, UK), who asserted: “The two young men’s action was intentional, which is not an effect of an ordinary practical activity such as running, walking, climbing, but a creative, albeit very simple act of It transfers our knowledge of the origin of art back to 180,000 years ago.” Exaggeration?

Footprints of hands and feet were intentionally imprinted at least 169,000 years ago, in Tibet, by two children aged 12 and 7 (age calculated from measurements of the finds). They were of the genus Homo, probably from Denisovas. Above, the Kesang District on the Tibetan Plateau has rocky grounds where “artistic” footprints have been found.
© CC/Science Bulletin

Imagination development. The two children on the Tibetan plateau, near Kisang, printed 5 footprints and 5 footprints on a surface of hard rock today, but at the time they looked similar to fresh concrete. From the measurements of the footprints, the ages of the two ranged from 7 to 12 years. Those on the feet look smaller in relation to those on the hands. They were not children sane man, but Neanderthals or Denisovans (especially our “sisters”, found in Eurasia before the arrival of Sabines From Africa, about 100 thousand years ago). The footprints were carefully admired, avoiding interference. To speak in this case from the originNS of art It would seem simple, were it not for the fact that drawings of hands accompany or precede all prehistoric frescoes, usually depicting animals, also understood as spirits of nature, starting 40 thousand years ago.

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In short, the representation of hands was a universal creative act in prehistoric times, since this type of representation corresponds to the work ofsane man From the Chauvet Caves in France 37,000 years ago to the 40,000-year-old frescoes of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It is found in Australia, for example in the Kimberley region, with a history of 17,000 years, up to Patagonia, in Cueva de las Manos, which was produced 13,000 years ago. Or in the Gilf Kebir mountain range, in the Egyptian desert, always in prehistoric times.

Five finger signatures. According to the 2018 history by Dirk Hoffmann of the Max Planck Institute, in caves near Santillana de la Mar, in northern Spain, Neanderthals made some negative images of hands 64,000 years ago, and thus the oldest in Europe. In almost all cases around the world, hands are depicted positively, i.e. coloring the inside of the hand with red ocher and then using it as a mold on the rock, or negatively, placing the hand against a wall and blowing colored powder on it (ocher or ash again) to leave its contours on the rock. If representations of hands, perhaps beginning as a game, are the first work of art (or one of the first) what symbolic meaning did they take?

Cueva de las Manos illustrations.  Found in the province of Santa Cruz (southern Argentina), it was made about 13,000 years ago using stencil technology, that is, often using the artist's hand as a mold to obtain a negative mold.

Cueva de las Manos illustrations. Found in the province of Santa Cruz (southern Argentina), it was made about 13,000 years ago using stencil technology, that is, often using the artist’s hand as a mold to obtain a negative mold. In fact, the cloned hand was always left because the dye, usually red ocher, was blown with a straw (often a hollow bird bone), holding the straw with the right hand.
© Mariano, via WikiMedia

Shaman at work. It was based on statistical differences in hand measurements in adults of both sexes (for example, in females, the ring finger is usually not as longer than the index finger as in males), and analysis of anti-handprints left on the walls of 8 French and Spanish caves. Thus he was able to prove that three-quarters of them were from female hands. If these have a sign and ritual function, and the animal figures that often accompany them have been produced by people in the role of shamans who have imagined contact with the spirit world, as anthropologists generally assume, then this is not a contradiction. The female writers agree in such a scenario. Indeed, in the shamanic practices that are still observed today in the ethnic groups of Tibet and Siberia, among the Australian aborigines or the Indians of South America, there are not a few shaman women.