Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anthropologists discover earliest form of wall art

Date:
May 14, 2012
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Anthropologists working in southern France have determined that a 1.5 metric ton block of engraved limestone constitutes the earliest evidence of wall art. Their research shows the piece to be approximately 37,000 years old and offers rich evidence of the role art played in the daily lives of Early Aurignacian humans.

Anthropologists, including NYU's Randall White, working in southern France have determined that a 1.5 metric ton block of engraved limestone constitutes the earliest evidence of wall art. Their research shows the piece to be approximately 37,000 years old and offers rich evidence of the role art played in the daily lives of Early Aurignacian humans. Pictured above are pieces of the discovery, which depict animals in red and black paint.
Credit: Images courtesy of Raphaëlle Bourrillon

Anthropologists working in southern France have determined that a 1.5 metric ton block of engraved limestone constitutes the earliest evidence of wall art. Their research, reported in the most recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the piece to be approximately 37,000 years old and offers rich evidence of the role art played in the daily lives of Early Aurignacian humans.

Related Articles


The research team, composed of more than a dozen scientists from American and European universities and research institutions, has been excavating at the site of the discovery -- Abri Castanet -- for the past 15 years. Abri Castanet and its sister site Abri Blanchard have long been recognized as being among the oldest sites in Eurasia bearing artifacts of human symbolism. Hundreds of personal ornaments have been discovered, including pierced animal teeth, pierced shells, ivory and soapstone beads, engravings, and paintings on limestone slabs.

"Early Aurignacian humans functioned, more or less, like humans today," explained New York University anthropology professor Randall White, one of the study's co-authors. "They had relatively complex social identities communicated through personal ornamentation, and they practiced sculpture and graphic arts."

Aurignacian culture existed until approximately 28,000 years ago.

In 2007, the team discovered an engraved block of limestone in what had been a rock shelter occupied by a group of Aurignacian reindeer hunters. Subsequent geological analysis revealed the ceiling had been about two meters above the floor on which the Aurignacians lived -- within arms' reach.

Using carbon dating, the researchers determined that both the engraved ceiling, which includes depictions of animals and geometric forms, and the other artifacts found on the living surface below were approximately 37,000 years old.

"This art appears to be slightly older than the famous paintings from the Grotte Chauvet in southeastern France," explained White, referring to the cave paintings discovered in 1994.

"But unlike the Chauvet paintings and engravings, which are deep underground and away from living areas, the engravings and paintings at Castanet are directly associated with everyday life, given their proximity to tools, fireplaces, bone and antler tool production, and ornament workshops."

He added that this discovery, combined with others of approximately the same time period in southern Germany, northern Italy, and southeastern France, raises new questions about the evolutionary and adaptive significance of art and other forms of graphic representation in the lives of modern human populations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Randall White, Romain Mensan, Raphaëlle Bourrillon, Catherine Cretin, Thomas F. G. Higham, Amy E. Clark, Matthew L. Sisk, Elise Tartar, Philippe Gardère, Paul Goldberg, Jacques Pelegrin, Hélène Valladas, Nadine Tisnérat-Laborde, Jacques de Sanoit, Dominique Chambellan, and Laurent Chiotti. Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1119663109

Cite This Page:

New York University. "Anthropologists discover earliest form of wall art." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514152952.htm>.
New York University. (2012, May 14). Anthropologists discover earliest form of wall art. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514152952.htm
New York University. "Anthropologists discover earliest form of wall art." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514152952.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) — A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) — A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) — Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins