The debate continues over how intelligent Neanderthals (ancient humans that went extinct about 40,000 years ago) were compared to the ancient ancestors of modern humans. We have come a long way from describing them simply as square jawed brutes who presumably sat around and picked their nose all day while they weren’t hunting. Now we believe they boiled water, buried their dead, had their own cultural practices, and even made art! Scientists have discovered 3 caves in Spain that contain cave art dating back to at least 64,800 years ago, which are the oldest known examples of cave art ever found and predate the arrival of modern humans in Europe by about 20,000 years! The scientists also found what looks like ancient jewelry that was even older than the cave art. The jewelry dates back to around 115,000 years ago, during a time when only Neanderthals inhabited Europe, and consists of seashells with drilled holes and other shells containing the remnants of pigment. Communicating through symbols and art, and adorning themselves with jewelry suggest that Neanderthals could have been just as intelligent as the ancient ancestors of modern humans. And the cave paintings in Spain appear to have been added over a span of 25,000 years, showing that this was not one isolated event; Neanderthals were creating art for thousands of years.
It is even conceivable that long ago Neanderthals brought ancient modern humans into their caves and taught them how to paint. So every time you visit an art museum or look at that Van Gogh screen saver you have on your computer, say a little “thank you” to the Neanderthals who may have been the first to bring art to Europe.
Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cave-art-suggests-neandertals-were-ancient-humans-mental-equals?tgt=nr
Feb 26, 2018