Art and Human Evolution

As an anthropologist what interests me most about people is their capacity for creative expression. Our imagination is truly boundless and quick survey of contemporary art shows that people are engaged in expressing themselves through a diverse set of media from the domestic arts like cooking, the traditional fine arts including music and performance, and second-order creations like internet memes and mash-ups. So art and expression always have a form, but there is also always a content on the surface appealing to the senses, at deeper levels that appeal to our intellects, and “intertextually” which means making comments on or referencing other works.

The capacity to create and express ourselves is a trait unique to modern humans and it begins in the Upper Paleolithic. Prior to this point in time the fossil record provides us with hominins that are identical to “us” physically, they are unequivocally Homo Sapiens, but we know they differed from us behaviorally. In a fundamental way they did not act they way we do. Then something happened. Nobody knows what exactly, something in the way the brain is wired perhaps. All around the world, at more or less the same time, humans harnessed the power of imagination and began expressing something about themselves, their identity, in durable artifacts.

Like the study of human origins, this is a field where exciting new finds with the potential to rewrite the textbooks are being made all the time. One recent discovery is evidence of a paint mixing kit from a cave in South Africa. It is an abalone shell with ocher (soil rich in iron oxide, aka rust) and a grinding stone. Ocher is believed to be the oldest pigment and was used even by premodern humans, probably in some symbolic context.

Here are the archaeologists, hard at work in the field…


NPR did an interview with archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood, who has been digging in this part of the world his whole life.

Henshilwood says for a short time, the cave was a paint shop — the earliest ever seen. The makers added bone and charcoal to a liquid mixture to make it oily and viscous so it would stick. The ocher provided color and a matrix. It was complex chemistry but stirred by hand.

How do we know that we’re looking at an ancient palette? 100,000 years later there’s still paint in the dish!

It was especially cool to read about the work of one of the grad students involved with the project, Andrew Zipkin at George Washington U, who has been making ocher into glue for affixing stone arrowheads onto shafts.

“I went to an Ethiopian butcher in Falls Church, Va., and tracked down a goat carcass they had there,” he says. Then he shot the arrows into the carcass. He found that the arrowheads with ocher stayed on better than those without.

Anthropologists: shooting dead goats for science.

This is the second big breakthrough in Upper Paleolithic studies this year (technically Henshilwood’s discovery counts as Middle Paleolithic because its so old). Just last month researchers from Cambridge U announced new evidence from one of the most famous painted caves in France that there is, deep within the cave, a special chamber set aside for works of art by children.

The Gaurdian (always a great source for science journalism) covered the conference where the new data was presented.

“It suggests it was a special place for children. Adults were there, but the vast majority of artwork is by children,” said Jess Cooney, a PhD student at the university’s archaeology department.

“It’s speculation, but I think in this particular chamber children were encouraged to make more art than adults. It could have been a playroom where the children gathered or a room for practice where they were encouraged to make these marks in order that they could grow into artists and make the beautiful paintings and engravings we find throughout the cave, and throughout France and Spain. Or it could have been a room used for a ritual for particular children, perhaps an initiation of sorts.”

Finger painting in prehistoric preschool!

There is so little in the archaeological record about the lives of children and undoubtedly this is shaped in part by cultural biases that privilege the lives of adults as serious and more important. As was noted in my lecture on “early man” and “man the hunter” only recently has anthropology and archaeology begun to recognize the substantial role played by women in human culture (duh, they’re half the population).

The archaeology of childhood is such a rich topic. How were they taught and socialized into the group? Were adult women the primary childcare providers or did grandparents play a significant role? When you teach a child to fingerpaint, what are they really learning?

“We don’t know why people made them. We can make guesses like they were for initiation rituals, for training of some kind, or simply something to do on a rainy day,” said Cooney.

“What I found in Rouffignac is that the children are screaming from the walls to be heard. Their presence is everywhere. And there is a five-year-old girl constantly shouting: ‘I wanna paint, I wanna paint’.”

Post your questions, comments, and meandering thoughts bellow. What do you want to know about art and human evolution?

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About Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is a project cataloger at The Mariners' Museum library. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and was formerly a professor at ODU. You can find him on Twitter @m4ttTh0mps0n.
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53 Responses to Art and Human Evolution

  1. Joanna Wolford says:

    It makes me wonder what the first Hominin to paint on walls was thinking. One must have thought the cave walls were kind of drab. Did all cave paintings tell a story and what else did they use as material for paint besides Ocher?

  2. Matt Marquand says:

    What fascinated me about this blog post was that archaeologists found a special chamber designated to children’s paintings. This groundbreaking discovery was interesting because adults were encouraging their children to paint and create art. They were passing down this skill to the next generation. It is unclear whether the chamber was used as a playroom or some sort of initiation but it shows the children had imagination and creative expression. This aptitude separated modern humans and Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens and modern humans share the same physical appearance but humans have the ability to create and express themselves. This unique trait sets us apart from the animal kingdom.

  3. Lyndon Garner says:

    Lyndon Garner
    ANTH 200
    October 19, 2011

    Art is certainly important and has a place on this list of things to consider when talking about the evolution of our species. I believe art serves as some key role in human behavior. In any event, the presence of art linked to hominid behavior in the ancient record may signal a human-like brain at that time and place. Ancient art is diverse, and explanations can be even more diverse. Do archaeologists view art as an indicator of something or as a trait?

  4. Chelsea Henderson says:

    It’s definitely interesting to see the origins of art, but what’s more intriguing to me is the way we as a human race seem to just follow. There are many perspectives of this throughout the course. We accept things as norms, typically, and just go with them. Art is clearly an ancient idea, but we still do it today. At some point it evolved and simply became part of society. The same is true for music- it had to start somewhere. Now look what music is today; it’s like we just stick to what we know or are told. Why do we eat with utensils? At some point that became a tradition. Very cool to see the beginning, and in its own sense innovative style, of art.

  5. Alexandra Ecker says:

    I believe that art is very influential and always has been through time. It was interesting to read about the children and how they used art and even the adults and how they used art to send a message because that’s what I feel people do today. It is crazy to see how art has developed throughout time. The quote “children are screaming from the walls to be heard” really stuck out to me because it showed that in the past children wanted to paint and draw just like kids today want to do for fun. They knew what they were doing and what they were painting in the past on the walls of the cave for the future to see.

  6. Christine Wielkopolski says:

    I find it interesting how resourceful and smart the human race was at this time. For an example, how did they know to add bone to their paint in order for it to stick more to the walls? Also, how did they know that adding ocher to the mix would add color to their paint?
    I like how they used art to express themselves and that their children did as well. Children today still use art to express themselves. They can use anything from coloring books, to painting, to playing with their food.
    It is interesting to see how far the human race has progressed so significantly.

  7. Dynesse Saling says:

    I was curious about the specifics of how they made the paint, so I read the NPR article, which suggested that it was a very complex, intentional reaction that formed the paint. It’s more than amazing how much chemistry and art ( and other seemingly unrelated topics) are connected throughout history. To produce this paint, the forethought of what needed to be mixed when, and when should the container needed to be heated, etc had to be taken into account. Also, maybe if painting was not as prolific as it was/is chemistry would not have advanced as quickly. I wonder if these specific people ever further studied chemistry and its uses beyond paint and arrows. Another side track, but what about other colors? There are several natural pigments in nature that can be easily extracted into pastes, such as paint. For example, chlorophyll is bright green and is found in plants every and most likely was not 40 kilometers away, as was the ocher. I think that maybe plant leaves were ground into the paint to make a green color, but due to the relatively quick decay of chlorophyll we have no evidence thus far for it.

  8. Candice Wilson says:

    I wonder if the art was shown to the community or if only certain individuals painted for storytelling purposes? Has there been art found that was of a self-portrait nature?

  9. Jenna Birkmire says:

    I think it is interesting to see that more children painted then adults. It shows us just how close to the older culture that we are. Like the blog stated it was like a child’s play room. Maybe a child’s play room came from those before us by the painting’s done in the cave.

  10. Kimberly Arceo says:

    I find it interesting how the children had their own painting area since we do not hear much information about children. Since children learn things through playing I wonder if painting had a significant role in this learning process. Perhaps the children spent a lot of their time in the caves and painting played a learning role for children until they were old enough to experience things for themselves. I wonder what can we learn about their lives from their paintings? What did it seem like they were painting?

  11. Mercedes Chapa says:

    During the upper paleolithic era humans expressed themselves and told stories through art. Cooking, dancing, singing, painting are all forms of art that have stemmed from our ancestors. I find it remarkable that caves were a paint shop that depicted the feelings of the individual. Its intriguing that early humans knew to mix certain ingredients to change color and create a thicker base to use for painting. Its remarkable how they had their own chemistry experiment developing within their caves. I find it fascinating that children were taught to paint and had their own area to tap into their creativity.

  12. Sarah Smith says:

    I want to know if early humans were trying to say something more than what was found on the cave walls. Was there a deeper meaning that had to do with religion or could they grasp philosophy. They could have just been trying to document events or important things, but what if early humans could philosophize about spirituality and origins of where they came from?

    What if early man did not start experimenting with art? What if prehistoric preschool did not teach the early human kiddies how to finger paint? Writing is basically drawing symbols so would the forming of an alphabet or symbols not have developed as fast? Without art the different human cultures that developed would be missing half of what makes it their culture. Style of writing, paintings, pottery would not be as developed.

  13. Shanice Williams says:

    What I would like to know about art and human evolution is how it all began. When was culture actually implemented into the earliest hominid? I am also very intrigued that the early humans had the intelligence and the ability to come up with this technique. I wonder what kind of images they were drawing and where they were drawing their inspiration from. Art in a whole is interesting because like the old saying a picture is worth a thousand words is very true. Archaeologists and anthropologists are able to tell a lot about society from a picture. So I find it pretty awesome that those early hominids were creating culture and paving the way for future societies and did not even know it.

  14. Sarah Woodruff says:

    Art is how we, as Homo Sapiens, express ourselves. Without self-expression, I don’t believe we would be as separate as we are from other animals. I think it is extremely interesting that our ancestors from thousands of years ago painted on cave walls. I know they depict stories of certain adventures they have been through such as hunting, but were they trying to save memories like we do with photographs? Today, the purpose of taking photos is to save that moment in time so years later we can look back and say “Oh, I remember this! Let’s do it again.” Was the purpose of those cave paintings to just have something to do, to express themselves, or to save those experiences to show to their children and their children?
    Lastly, art has led to our human evolution in many ways. For example, the more ways we are able to express ourselves, the more we are able to interact with one another which can allow our language to develop. Thus, we become social beings.

    • Kevin Doss says:

      I really like the idea of the paintings on the walls in order to preserve memories, it really seems like a great way to tell others of the exploits of their ancestors. we hear about stories from oral tradition being passed down generations, and now we have a chance to really see a sort of first Power Point of an ancient artist/teacher telling how to hunt good game, or where to find them.
      art really seems to be coevolving as a natural part of human evolution, through the ability to express personality and culture in such a symbolic way really shows what an amazing creature humans are, we need to give credit to these ancient humans.
      Also I wonder if they can tell the gender of these protohumans, through the hand paintings in anyway.

  15. Candice Zollars says:

    I think it’s interesting how the “cavemen” knew how to make the paint stay on the cave walls and also how they knew how to make the paint as well. I’ve always wondered what was going through their minds when they were drawing on the walls. I’ve also always been fasicinated with the way they decided to tell their stories through paintings on the cave walls. Art is absolutely important to us because it shows how intellectual we were millions of years ago!

  16. Andrea King says:

    I find it interesting that prehistoric children were creating cave art because when the adults created art they did so because they were often in a trance or in order to worship an animal. This made me think that the children were being taught subjects other than just how to create art.

  17. Samantha Gregson says:

    I think this blog post is interesting because it brings up evidence on the childrens’ activity. I think children directly reflect opinions, ideas, and norms of their elders. I think a good question brought up is whether they were learning or just imitating. I think at the point in time they were probably just imitating elders. There were a couple things the post did not elaborate on. I would like to know what they were painting, and I also would have liked an explanation on how they knew it was strtictly children artwork.

  18. Jackie Gomez says:

    This was interesting because it reminded me of the movie “Brother Bear”. They weren’t pre-modern humans, but they were an indigenous people and used cave paintings as expression also. They used them to tell stories AND as rituals. As for ”why” the pre-modern humans began art maybe it wasn’t only to express themselves in their time period, but to also let US know that they were there…that they existed. For example i’ve carved my name in/on objects so that people would know that “I” at some point in my life was there. Nobody wants to be forgotten, not even pre-modern humans.

  19. Alex Stamnas says:

    I find it fascinating that we as a society have so often regarded the behavior of children as unimportant or insignificant, when anything and everything a child takes part in somehow plays into their development as an adult. There is a reason that drawing and painting is one of the most popular activities of young children. There are no limits; no boundaries to whatever they want to draw or create. This not only benefits the individual for the time being, but also allows the possibility of future breakthroughs either in technology or science to take place in generations to follow. The future of the world rests in the minds, imagination, and creativity of children. When it comes down to it, I don’t find it surprising at all that children painted or drew more than adults. It makes perfect sense.

  20. Lauren Reynolds says:

    What I found the most interesting was that child had a special place to paint. I wonder if the adults guided them on what to paint or they made it up themselves. It’s great to know that children were allowed to express themselves through an art form even back then!

  21. Ivana Guayurpa says:

    This article is truly genuine in bringing forth the idea that early man wasn’t just primitive in his characteristics but also showed depth through the cave paintings. Whats even more intriguing is that they let their children take part in the liberating expression of art. I wonder if early man had higher regard for their younger generation and if they believed them to be more imaginative and thus more special than the adults? I’d really like to know if there were certain times of the year that children and adults created wall paintings and or if it was reserved to a special class within their population? I wish there was more evidence and findings found on early children because it would be interesting to compare them to modern children.

  22. Travis Tong says:

    All this makes me really wonder how much we actually know and how much we think we know. Also the question came to mind about what was before cave paintings. I wonder if these “cavemen” started out using sticks drawing in the sand and then figured out a way of making a type of paint and decided the cave walls would be a great place to put their art. Do you think there were any “artists” in this time that were more respected than others?

  23. Michal Chavis says:

    I think about how all the different types of art dervied from these early humans. I wonder if it is because the mind became more creative over the years or because of the different types of tools we have now that we can make art more elaborate. I do believe art was much more symbolic and meaningful then than it is today.

  24. Marlin Wade says:

    The first part really makes me think about what other art forms they had. If they painted and had visual art, what about music and dance? Were they able to pass down music or art from generations to generations? Or did they have a certain style of art that was most common between them? Were some better at painting than others? Just like we had a Picasso, did they have a certain person who was even more talented than everyone else. Also when it comes to the roles of women and children, they must have played a large part because like you said they make up over half of the population. We’ve always had a speculation that the male was the hunter/gatherer, but do we really have prime evidence of that? The female could have been right by their side hunting or they could have played the majority of the hunting role. With the question that was posed about who raised the children, there is always the idea that the father could have played this role. Also when you write about the area that showed off children’s painting’s, how do we really know it was children? Couldn’t it have been adults with really bad art skills? Most of this blog really made me question a lot of things and wonder where all of the prime evidence came from.

  25. grace valentine says:

    I find it really interesting that we began expressing our individuality and creativity well before our time. It just proves how we are truely complex species with big brains, who have had an itch for creativity since the beginning. The emphasis our society places on art and culture is grand, and it all started in the ancient days. It is amazing how we have evolved so much, but that many of our characteristics have stuck, they have just become more advanced with time.

  26. Monica Figueroa-Roman says:

    It is very interesting to think about art and human evolution because art can be a part of their culture that we can actually study. I would want to know what brought them to even start expressing ideas in art or why did they start using it. It is also interesting to think about how they discovered to make art and its utensils and how they knew where to paint it. Maybe it was a new part of their ritual but what if it was just self expression then what could they be expressing? Also who were the ones that made the art, was it the older ones or just children? If it was just children then it would be very interesting to study the art because mainly all the fossils we have are of grownups not really children. So maybe this art was the way that children left their mark in the world back then. But if it was a part of the ritual what did the art mean to them. I don’t think we could every get a true answer of the meaning of this art since we don’t know their thoughts. This art would just be used to make conclusions as to what we think their rituals and thoughts were.

  27. Melissa Rizzio says:

    It’s refreshing to see that pre-modern humans had more character to them than just surviving, expanding, and creating tools. It’s even greater to know that art influencing culture/ culture influencing art is not a modern concept, but instead is stemmed from the beginning human existence.

  28. What I found interesting was the part about the children’s paintings. I’m an art major and out of all the art history classes I have taken I have never heard/learned of this. It’s pretty cool and I thought it was really interesting.

  29. Nadia Qasimi says:

    I find it really interesting how the focus of their findings was children. it’s true how not much is known about prehistoric children and any information that we find out about them, I find so interesting because children are a subculture. Their rules and perception of the world differ from their parents and we could learn so much about them.

  30. Laura Ott says:

    I think it is pretty crazy that art has been discovered back this far in time. I would think that this art wasn’t just a hobby and way of expressing themselves, but yet their means of communicating as well. It just fascinates me that hominids this long ago thought very similar to the way we do today (judging by their artwork). We aren’t the only complex, intelligent individuals to roam the world after all! 🙂

  31. Yvette LaChute says:

    I’ve always found it intriguing how the “cavemen” created the tools for drawing art on rock which is something you rarely see in today’s modernized technology. Who came up with the idea to start carving the rocks, did it develop over conversation while cooking food or did one person get the idea and just start carving the rocks? Was it done as a past time or did a historian get the idea that their story needed to be told? How did they choose what to draw and its shape?

    I think art did a lot to shape human evolution today because it helped tell parts of the story regarding ancient times and also allowed for other creative art ideas to develop. With other ideas being created throughout time then I believe it helped others realize that the potential was unlimited so experiments began and modernization slowly began to develop. If someone hadn’t started drawing cave art would someone have chosen to experiment with the creation of items we take for granted today such as electricity, the phone, vehicles, etc due to hindered thinking or did cave art set the pathway for creative thinking and the idea to experiment throughout time?

  32. Erin King says:

    I found it interesting that the art provides evidence of a more advanced culture. One that can use symbols, records history, writes things down to remember, and has forms of entertainment. The art shows that their was an appreciation for record keeping and documenting of certain events. It also shows how art is a natural process, that even early humans used to express themselves. Art is a way in which we connect with this early civilization, and shows how some activities last throughout the ages. It poses the question is art human nature? Then it makes me think about how art programs in schools are being cut, and how if early civilizations used art and it is still around in similar ways today, doesnt that show how important it is if it can last thousands of years? Interesting article!

  33. Richard C says:

    I was lucky to see Werner Herzog’s documentary film “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” about the 40 thousand year old caves deep underground at Chauvet in southern France. I was amazed how vivid the drawings were. The artists took advantage of the natural features of the cave wall to give life to the pictures. They used multiple images to convey the feeling of motion. Clearly these were people who were skilled in their art and used some of sophisticated techniques we use today. One tends to think of these ancient people as primitive, but the art was anything but.

  34. Stephen Denuel says:

    I think it is really interesting to see the origins of art and how it has changed through time. Todays art can be so complex compared to its simple beginnings. Even though I am terrible at drawing, painting, and every other form of that nature, it still intrigues me to look at different pieces and how it relates to me. Even those these pictures were simple, it is definitely interesting to look at and see what was important to those people during that time period.

  35. Hollie Reid says:

    Today, young children draw as a form of entertainment. As they grow older, they use pictures to supplement story telling. I think it would be interesting to investigate the age range of the children that utilized the children’s art room and would result in a better insight to the specific purpose of the art the children created there. I believe the motives for children’s artwork would be the same in prehistoric times as todays.

    I also think it would be interesting to look at the purpose of the adult cave paintings as well, are they primarily works of art or are they depictions of events that actually happened? Today we have stories based on facts, with embellishments to make them more interesting, which I’m sure was done in prehistoric times as well. Were there specific people whose “job” it was to create stories for entertainment, like todays authors and screenwriters?

    Henshilwood calls the one cave a “paint shop.” Were objects or services traded to obtain paint like in a bartering system? Were there people in charge of maintaining the shop and creating the paint mixtures or was it like a community resource?

  36. Anita Arneson says:

    I find it interesting that our ancestors were creating works of art some 100,000 years ago. The unanswered question is, “Why?” It is possible that these paintings were created for the same reason we create artwork today. It could be to express one’s self, to communicate something about the area/ nature, or maybe just out of bordem. It is possible that the paintings created by the children were the product of some sort of instruction or teaching. It may also be that the kids had to stay inside during certain periods such as poor weather conditions and they were preoccupied with painting. We probably will never know the real reason for these prehistoric works of art, but it is interesting to read and hear the ideas of others.

  37. Bronte' says:

    How did the Scientist and Anthropologists know where to look for these things? were they just stumbled across while looking for other things?

  38. Caitlin Blalock says:

    I find it fascinating that there was a particular room set aside for the children. Though it is still up in the air whether this room was set aside as a play room or for rituals. Eitherway it opens up a whole new window of possibilities as why children were encouraged to fingerpaint more than the adults. Was it solely to keep the children occupied or was it a way for children to expres themselves?

  39. Stephen Clark says:

    I found this article to be astonishing and incredible from an anthropologist point of view. I was amazed by some of the artifcats that they discovered. I was also amazed about where to look for such unique artifacts. It was also neat to see how art can shape evolution as we know it today.

  40. Jack Saladino says:

    This article was mad interesting. It’s truly unbelievable how some of these things are explained. Most of all this one statement drove me crazy through the whole artice, “All around the world, at more or less the same time, humans harnessed the power of imagination and began expressing something about themselves, their identity, in durable artifacts.” Although I do believe that this is true, when I think deeper, it really is hard to believe that thousands of years ago hominids developed an imagination, considering that we are the only animal on earth that has mastered that ability. It just shows how evolution is a one-in-a-million type of process.

  41. Erika Primdahl says:

    art (and music) is such a HUGE part of culture. It says what words cant. Tradition, values, lifestyle- all that jazz can be communicated through music. I know its impossible- but discoveries like this make me wish i could go back in time and get inside early humans very large, slanted heads. The only thing about this it leaves you asking ‘why?’ Why were they painting- what were they trying to communicate, record, or symbolize.

  42. Pete Chumchal says:

    I know there was a way to tell how they know that there were kids painting in the cave. Yet i am not sure if i missed it but it really did not specify how they know it was kids that were making the paintings. I have a feeling that the room for the kids was more of a place where rituals with the children were preformed, maybe a safety room. My personal experience with hallucinations has shown me that they can be extremely spiritually powerful. I know now days the majority of the population will never hallucinate once in their lives other than staying up too long. But the idea of ingesting something to hallucinate on, has been fronted as a very taboo thing to do because of religion reflected in law.
    The feeling that one gets is a very detached from the earthly way. My best description is that its like being on another planet for a night. Mix that with a wild emotional roller coaster and a personal enlightenment, very powerful. May be powerful enough to kick start a spark in the human mind to want to learn and improve. Could hallucination be that “Thing” that switched the human race into a era of knowledge and expression. I know that in my case it was a jump start that made me WANT to improve my life. I think that this could have been where these people went to express what they were doing in life. Maybe as kids they just wanted to mess around with paints.
    One thing I’m wondering is that, maybe there were tons of paintings on the walls that no longer are there because they were more of a topical paint and less of a stain that the ochre that held up for thousands of years was. If i had the time of a day or two i could wander into a cave and paint up 3 or 400 paintings If these people were using the cave as a school then i could imagine that there were a lot more paintings at one point in time.

  43. Bryan O'loughlin says:

    Did early humans before they starting painting cave walls, maybe paint themselves when heading out hunting? As a way either to better hind themselves from the animals or in a ritualistic way?
    What came first cave art, or body art??

    I know as a baby I drew on the walls just for the hell of it, I did not start drawing on my hands till I was about 7ish.

    This leads to me wonder about early tattoos.

  44. Ashley Short says:

    I think finding a separate area for children to paint is a really interesting discovery. It gives insight into the ways children were raised. It shows how children mimicked the behavior of their parents and develop their own skills. I would like to know how they learned the various meaning to the drawings. Also, you can see how advanced the culture is by the way they used art. They knew the right things to use to, not only make necessary tools for hunting and such, but to express themselves through art.

  45. Catie Gilmore says:

    I am interested to know how they know that the markings from the 7 year old child in the cave were from a girl? Do girls have a different swirl to their fingerprints than boys? Additionally, as a preschool teacher I find it very interesting and likely that this was a prehistoric preschool. The children have to learn the routines and nuances of everyday life somehow. Even primates today show a very tight bond with their offspring, so I would not be surprised if there was a parent figure showing these children how to produce art which was obviously a large part of their life. The article said there were at least 4 adults and possibly two others in addition to at least 2 children. This could be a large family system. Two sets of grandparents, the parents and then the children. If families stuck together in a pack of sorts then this is very plausible.

  46. Sarah L. Wright says:

    I have always had an interesting not only in the meaning of what we uncover from the past but what context the artist/author used while designing written work or artwork. I wonder, what was considered comical then? What was considered rude? Did the a picture of a sun just mean sunshine or did it have a more powerful significance? One of the most interesting aspects of art is that depending on the background of the viewer it can be interpreted in multiple ways for each person, despite the fact that the artist more than likely made it with a single idea in mind. The fact that these children were able to express themselves and finger paint showed an obvious enthusiasm to become more advanced and more like their elders, but it also showed that they had a sense of individualism and personality.

  47. Bianca Hailes says:

    I think it’s very interesting how they use to make art in those times. That’s what I like to call natural art. They used everything the earth supplied to make colors such as certain berries to make certain colors. I wonder what made them decide to make colors, did they happen to sqeeze a plant or something and decided to draw? I guess the world will never know (well that is until they invent time travel)

  48. Tyrell says:

    i think that this is interesting… mabey the child wall served simply as a method to keep the children occupied as the adults actually painted, i imagine children then are just like children now, when ever they see their parent or older sibling doing something they want to do the same, and since the paintings were on the walls the adults couldnt just have the children messing up the walls with scribbling.

  49. Cody Taylor says:

    It’s interesting that we still use this tool today. What interests me the most is: how did they come up with using dyes from natural resources as a tool for creative expression? If this is truly some type of instruction for their children, they must have valued it a lot. I also wondered if this art was more than just for creativity but for religion…

  50. Zac says:

    You dont have to teach children how to draw, it is something they just do. You can hand a kid a crayon and some paper and they will figure out that it will make marks on the paper and they will begin to draw. I think the same process must have happened when an early human somehow found out that a certain material would make marks on the rock when it was rubbed across it.

  51. Art has the ability to give us a look into what ancient people’s thought and how they perceived the world around them. It also allows us to visualize their culture through their pictures and their habits as a group. I was always interested in whether or not they could possibly fathom the possibility of their art being on display thousands of years later. Absolutely mind-blowing.

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