Well no, he couldn’t, as all the pictures of him prove. But could a Neanderthal have been Leonardo da Vinci? Ah, that’s a different story. Up to now, the general consensus is that only modern humans, Homo Sapiens, created art. Now a new book by Professor Tom Higham of the University of Oxford, suggests that Neanderthals and other early types of human may have been artistically minded as well. At least, they could learn art from modern humans, even if they didnt invent it. We link to Dalya Alberge in The Guardian below. * But we want to go further.
There’s been hints and suggestions about this idea floating around for years . So to throw you all some more red meat, we link to a piece in National Geographic which gives some fine leads on the artistic accompishments of our much-disparaged cousins. * And New Scientist think that the mysterious Denisovans might have warmed to the Royal Academy Summer Show-assuming you could bring them back to life and safeguard them from Covid. All well and good, we hear you say- these were very modern types of humans, with brains as big as our own. Why, we even bred with them. But can we go back further. Evidence is scant, tantalising and of course open to interpretation. But there are intriguing hints that even Homo erectus may just, might, maybe have been making symbolic sketches on things as much as 500 000 years ago. See wikipedia link * below.
In which case, we think it is all rather moving. Art is sometimes produced in desperate circumstances. But the lives of early prehuman ancestors must have been desperately nasty, brutish and short. To think of one of them producing anything symbolic, and meant to last, is fascinating indeed.
#homoerectus #homosapiens #neanderthals #denisovans #art #cavepaintings #paleolithic