Homo Erectus Art?

Discussion in 'History and Mythology' started by iBrian, Oct 20, 2003.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Jul 15, 2003
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    Here's something very interesting - and extremely controversial - idea: that Homo Erectus made stone carvings.

    This is an important debate, because this takes the root of human consciousness by way of conceptual thought much further back than had previously been postulated.

    And, of course, with the idea of Homo Erectus making stone carvings, comes the possibility of spiritual belief.

    A debate to watch out for:


    Ancient carved 'faces' found

    A keen-eyed archaeologist claims to have found some of the oldest artwork ever - carved faces 200,000 years old.

    The human images were found in 2001 by Pietro Gaietto on an expedition through the Borzonasca district of Italy.

    He claims the rock has been sculpted into faces that look in opposite directions; one is bearded with what Gaietto calls an "expressive face".

    If this is genuine, the artist would have been an extinct human species that died out about 150,000 years ago.

    Cliff face

    Local inhabitants say that prehistoric human faces are nothing new to the region and point to a rock cliff that they believe has been sculpted. They call it the Face of Borzone.

    In 2001, in a pile of rubble collected for use as building material, Pietro Gaietto, from the Museum of the Origins of Man, saw something unusual in one particular head-sized rock.

    "If I had not spotted it, it would have been covered in concrete and put into a wall," he told BBC News Online.

    Pietro Gaietto says it shows two heads, facing outwards and joined at the neck. One of the faces is bearded; the other is beardless.

    Conceptual thought

    "It has a very expressive face," he says. "The beardless face has two eyes, a mouth and a wide nose."

    He says close inspection of the rock reveals that it has been carved and knocked into shape.

    Gaietto believes the sculpture is 200,000 years old, and would have been used in rituals.

    He says it would have been made by an extinct species of human called Homo erectus, of which there is evidence in the region.

    Older still

    Gaietto's claims are controversial because hominids such as Homo erectus are not thought to have been capable of the symbolic thought needed to create art.

    The earliest examples of human artwork that scientists feel confident to describe as such are all less than 100,000 years old.

    The most notable items are probably the 70,000-year-old engraved ochre pieces found in the Blombos Cave of South Africa.

    But there are items some researchers have claimed to be art that are even older than the faces of Borzonasca.

    The so-called Tan-Tan object unearthed in Morocco in 1999 is said to be a 400,000-year-old sculpted figurine.

    Mainstream science, however, believes these items are not man-made at all. It argues the distinctive features have very probably been moulded by geological processes.

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  2. mahogan

    mahogan tgyhuj

    Oct 4, 2003
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    homo erectus art

    Once we accept that a creature adapts its surroundings for tools etc, there is no reason why it should not then go on to produce 'art' - that is, a structure which posesses a degree of abstraction. The ability to create thingss which at least change the relationship between Nature annd Man is thee thing which most setss us appart from other creatures; so if erectus was a part of that evolution, we shoudl expect it to posess some capacity for tolls, shelter and 'art'.

    One should be cautous though. A rock formation in Greenfiels, Manchester, is called 'The Indian's Head' but as far as I know it was not constructed by anything other than natural means.
  3. Chronicles

    Chronicles Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2003
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    Certainly true - and welcome to CR, mahogan!

    There was an article in this week's NewScientist that featured a worked piece of flint, that had a piece of wood purposefully placed within flint wedges. It looked somewhat like a face, and is identified as Neanderthal.

    If that remains a supported hypothesis, then it effectively means that there is evidence that even Neanderthals were constructing artistic objects.

    There was been a general consensus that humanity is so unique that no other animal - let alone our ancestral apes - were capable of artisitic appreciate and thought. This is all quite an eye-opener.
  4. mahogan

    mahogan tgyhuj

    Oct 4, 2003
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    image creation


    Has a handy list of mummy sites; it is interesting that nothing dates back further than 5 000 BCE. We often assume that peoole have always strove to create permanent structures, yet the evidence of human development is that we have not done so except from within a narrow European context (most monumument architecture does not indicate a drive to preserve a social or political structure, only to reinforce a belief structure.

    There is also a problem of an Ice Age and a Warm Age and, bearing in mind that even now somewhere in the region of 80% of world populaiotns live within 50 km of the sea, any temperature change will have made it very difficult to trace any historic activity predating that which we expect to find.

    There is something within the structual changes of our own cultures - the fall of Mycenea to the rise of Athens, the end of the European 'Dark Ages', which we have not understood and might at some point improve our understanding of the distant past.


    Martin Hogan


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