Neanderthal paintings can be seen in a cave in Pasiega, Spain in this photo obtained February 22, 2018. University of Southampton/Handout via REUTERS
6:56 PM 02/22/2018
Scientists now believe history’s first artists were Neanderthals (not humans), according to research published Thursday.
A UK-German team uncovered ancient allegedly-Neanderthal-crafted artwork amid three separate caves in Spain, according to The Guardian. The researchers maintain this assertion after studying the calcite crusts (organic matter that formed over the petrographs), according to their research featured in Science magazine. The team’s uranium-series dating (or U-Th) availed the calcite crusts date back to at least 20,000 years before human evolution.
One La Pasiega-cave petrograph depicts a ladder-esque design in northern Spain at least 64,800 years old. The painting also has vague animal shapes, which humans might’ve added later was possibly added later. Another Maltravieso-cave (western Spain) petrograph shaped like a hand dates back at least 66,700 years. The Ardales cave (near Malaga) features an abstract depiction of curtains from at least 65,500 years ago.
“It’s fascinating to demonstrate that the Neanderthals were the world’s first artists and not our own species,” Durham University Paleolithic Archaeology professor Paul Pettit said.
“I think we have the smoking gun,” University of Southampton archaeological sciences professor Alistair Pike said. Pike recalled the team being dumbfounded when receiving the initial U-Th date. The Neanderthal-art concept was a heavily debated topic prior to this discovery. However, research also entailed radiocarbon measurements, which has the potential for inaccurate results, according to the Independent.
Neanderthals were living in modern-day Europe until at least 120,000 years ago. (Humans arrived in Europe approximately 40,000 years ago.)
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