Oldest human art - half a million years ago

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Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#1  Postby kennyc » Dec 03, 2014 7:12 pm

Oldest Art Was Carved Onto Shell 540,000 Years Ago

A close up of lines from the engraving.

Image

Some 540,000 years ago, an ancient ancestor of modern humans took a shark tooth and carefully carved a geometric engraving on a mollusk shell.

The engraving -- the oldest piece of art ever found by at least 300,000 years -- as well as a shell tool were found at a site in what is now Java, Indonesia.

The work strongly suggest that Homo erectus, aka "Upright Man," was far more sophisticated than previously thought, being capable of cognition and behavior only attributed before to our species.


The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Nature.

The age of the engraving is astounding, as no other art, even cave and rock paintings, are as old. The international team of researchers analyzed the imprint of the engraving to determine that Homo erectus made the engraving with a shark tooth.
....


http://news.discovery.com/human/evoluti ... 141203.htm
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#2  Postby Mike_L » Dec 03, 2014 7:49 pm

Very interesting! :nod:

So engraving seems to have come first. I suppose it's reasonable to assume that whittling and rudimentary carving followed soon after. The oldest known painting and the oldest known sculpture seem to date back to roughly the same time (about 40 thousand years ago).

An interesting observation from the first of those links (and also here) is that the airbrush, usually regarded as a modern invention, may actually be at least as old as the first bristle brushes...

Historians hypothesize that paint was applied with brushing, smearing, dabbing, and spraying techniques. Large areas were covered with fingertips or pads of lichen or moss. Twigs produced drawn or linear marks, while feathers blended areas of color. Brushes made from horsehair were used for paint application and outlining. Paint spraying, accomplished by blowing paint through hollow bones, yielded a finely grained distribution of pigment, similar to an airbrush.
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#3  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Dec 03, 2014 11:09 pm

Note the "A", "A" is for atheist??? :grin: :grin:
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"When an animal carries a “branch” around as a defensive weapon, that branch is under natural selection".
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#4  Postby kennyc » Dec 04, 2014 1:53 pm

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/03/367845103 ... mmentBlock

"Maybe it's not as intentional a design as they imply," she says, noting that a young Homo erectus child may simply have picked up the tool a parent used to open a shell, and tried it out.

I continue to think about and am fascinated by this discovery. I am in awe at what might have been in the person's mind when they scratched this design into the shell (even if a child). Could that have any inkling that half-a-million years later their descendants would have robotic children exploring Mars and Pluto and the possibility of their descendants traveling to the stars?
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#5  Postby DougC » Dec 04, 2014 3:11 pm

From B.B.C. - Indonesian shell has 'earliest human engraving'
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#6  Postby kennyc » Dec 04, 2014 4:18 pm

and my poetic response:

Half a Million Years Ago

Half a million years ago a child picked up a clam shell left over from the meal her family had just consumed at the edge of a river and with the sharp edge of a broken shell etched triangular lines into it representing the mountain peaks surrounding the lush valley her family called home. Could there have been anything like a glimmer of knowledge in her mind of what that simple artistic act might mean to her descendants five hundred thousand years in the future? Certainly she and her family would be intimately familiar with the annual cycle of life so critical to their survival. She would understand years and life and longing. Might there not also have been thoughts in her mind of how that artistic action could portend the future? Tool use, art and striving to survive just as evident in her descendants half a million years later in their own primitive but evident efforts to etch similar marks on other planets, on other stars, with their own primitive tools and to perhaps someday have those efforts looked back on with awe and amazement by their own progeny half a million years in the future.

Kenny A. Chaffin – 12/4/2014
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#7  Postby Mike_L » Dec 04, 2014 6:03 pm

:this: is very good!

Makes me think of...

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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#8  Postby kennyc » Dec 04, 2014 11:48 pm

From AAAS:

http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/ ... n-ancestor

This is big stuff unless something turns out to be wrong with the dating etc...
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#9  Postby Clive Durdle » Dec 06, 2014 3:57 pm

Is a beaver dam art?
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#10  Postby jamest » Dec 06, 2014 6:31 pm

Sediment within the shells enabled them to be dated using both isotopic and luminescence methods.

Can someone here shed a bit more light on this process? What does it entail, and how accurate is it?
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#11  Postby Spearthrower » Dec 06, 2014 6:52 pm

kennyc wrote:NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/03/367845103 ... mmentBlock

"Maybe it's not as intentional a design as they imply," she says, noting that a young Homo erectus child may simply have picked up the tool a parent used to open a shell, and tried it out.

I continue to think about and am fascinated by this discovery. I am in awe at what might have been in the person's mind when they scratched this design into the shell (even if a child). Could that have any inkling that half-a-million years later their descendants would have robotic children exploring Mars and Pluto and the possibility of their descendants traveling to the stars?



I think there's a bunch of wrong-ness here in the assumption that it represents art, but having just got back from Vietnam, I don't have the time or brainpower to address it yet, I'll get back to this later though.
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#12  Postby Spearthrower » Dec 06, 2014 7:03 pm

jamest wrote:
Sediment within the shells enabled them to be dated using both isotopic and luminescence methods.

Can someone here shed a bit more light on this process? What does it entail, and how accurate is it?


Isotopic dating means all those other forms of radiometric dating, like rubidium-strontium, uranium-thorium, and of course carbon dating.

These all have error bars depending on the method, for example carbon dating is accurate generally to within +/- 200 years

Luminescence dating takes a little more legwork: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoluminescence

Some of the key corroborations of dating methods are that a) they overlap and can therefore cross-reference each other b) can be measured against objects of known age - for example, tree rings can be counted and therefore be given an absolute date, pollen count in soil layers changes every year, and ice-varves provide a record of the changes in atmospheric composition - all of these provide a relative date to corroborate against and work from.

Given the error bars, the dating methods are highly accurate.
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#13  Postby kennyc » Dec 06, 2014 7:08 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
kennyc wrote:NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/03/367845103 ... mmentBlock

"Maybe it's not as intentional a design as they imply," she says, noting that a young Homo erectus child may simply have picked up the tool a parent used to open a shell, and tried it out.

I continue to think about and am fascinated by this discovery. I am in awe at what might have been in the person's mind when they scratched this design into the shell (even if a child). Could that have any inkling that half-a-million years later their descendants would have robotic children exploring Mars and Pluto and the possibility of their descendants traveling to the stars?



I think there's a bunch of wrong-ness here in the assumption that it represents art, but having just got back from Vietnam, I don't have the time or brainpower to address it yet, I'll get back to this later though.


While I agree 'art' may be a stretch, art is in the eye of the beholder, eh? :D

I do see a stylized design though, it you want to call that art, who am I to say otherwise.
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Re: Oldest human art - half a million years ago

#14  Postby jamest » Dec 06, 2014 7:22 pm

Thanks Spearthrower
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