So Neanderthals made abstract art? This astounding discovery humbles every human
Scientists say cave paintings in Spain, thought to have been by our ancestors, were actually by Neanderthals. So did they teach us everything we know?
If you go to the painted caves of Spain and France, crawl through narrow passages and keep your balance on slippery rock floors, you reach the hidden places where ice age hunters made their marks tens of thousands of years ago. Nothing seems more startling than the way they placed hands against the cold rock and blew red ochre out of their mouths to leave fiery images. Of what though?
Up to now we called it the human presence. “The print of the hand says, ‘This is my mark. This is man’,” declared the scientist Jacob Bronowski when he visited caves in northern Spain in his classic TV series The Ascent of Man. Simon Schama visits those same caves in the BBC’s new epic series Civilisations and raves about those same handprints. For what could communicate the curiosity, self-assertion, intelligence, and above all self-consciousness of our unique species Homo sapiens, more clearly that this desire to literally leave our mark?Continue reading...