Are we really the first artists in the world, or has that title belonged to someone else this whole time? Until recently, modern humans have been thought to be the only one of the first known species to have developed a symbolic culture.
However, this might all change thanks to uranium-thorium dating. This latter is a new method of discerning age in which only 600 milligrams of material is needed. In turn, this also helps preserve the integrity of the analyzed cave art.
As such, uranium-thorium dating is considered a breakthrough when compared to commonly used carbon dating methods, as these can destroy the historical find being tested.
The Firsts Artists of the World, Traced Back to Earlier than Initially Believed
A team of researchers used this new method to analyze three Spanish cave sites. Study results show that these cave paintings were made somewhere around 65,000 years ago. This goes back more than 20,000 years before humans are even thought to have set foot in Europe.
As such, scientists have attributed their creation to Neanderthals. This then calls into question whether other European cave art might not be Neanderthalian as well. The caves tested contained perforated seashells, shell containers, and mixes of different colors which were used to create the paintings.
These revelations are shocking, as they put the Neanderthals’ cognitive thinking in line with that of modern humans. Scientists already knew about their decorative impulses and rituals (like burying their dead). But if these latest results are proven true, then their culture would be proven to be a symbolic one.
Such information could prove valuable in the task of understanding how the human brain developed. With this new information, scientists are also re-evaluating things they once thought to be facts.
Humans have imagined themselves as unique even after archaeologists started excavating sites that once held ancient civilizations. Suddenly, that may not be true.
Our revered rituals have been proven to be shared, alongside with our symbolical society. Some researchers vehiculate that Neanderthals might have even had a form of oral language with which they communicated.
A paper with the study results was released in the journal Science.
Image Source: Wikimedia