Tech UPTechnologyDenisovan art made by children found in Tibet

Denisovan art made by children found in Tibet

A group of scientists has discovered what could be the oldest work of art in the world . Composed of a series of hand and foot prints, the engravings are between 169,000 and 226,000 years old, that is, they were made in the mid-Pleistocene. They would therefore be quite earlier (three or four times older) than the famous cave paintings found in Indonesia, France and Spain.

And why are footprints considered art and not accidental? The group of international researchers who carried out the study, led by David Zhang from Guangzhou University, turned to Thomas Urban, a research scientist at the College of Arts and Sciences and the Cornell Tree Ring Laboratory for an explanation. What Urban told them is that the prints are not accidentally placed .

The prints were stamped into travertine, a limestone that when soft allows an impression to be made and then hardens into a rock. It is believed that the travertine had reached that area by hot waters fed by the geothermal heat.

“It would have been a slippery, sloping surface,” Urban said. “You couldn’t really attribute the tracks to a fall. So why create this arrangement of prints?” Urban said in a statement published in the Cornell Chronicle . “My point of view was, can we think of this as an artistic behavior, a creative behavior, something clearly human? The interesting side of this is that it is very early.”

The presence of handprints relates the Tibetan sample to parietal art, an art that is made by stenciling (using a template, a tracing) on the walls of a cave. The oldest art of this type found dates back between 40,000 and 45,000 years, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and in the cave of El Castillo, in Spain . The Chauvet cave paintings in France date back 30,000 years. Those found in Tibet would be considerably older.

The researchers believe that the footprints belong to a 7-year-old boy and the handprints to a 12-year-old. They also suggest that the little ones would be part of the enigmatic Denisovan clan, a lineage related to Neanderthals. The reason is that right in that area, on the Tibetan plateau, remains of a Denisovan jaw were found in 2019. Most likely, we will never know the exact identity of the children, but the find is a sample of the first hominid occupation on the plateau.

And about whether it is art or not. Urban thinks that considering something art is a very subjective act but that the prints were made deliberately, have a clear composition and were made in a moment of enjoyment.


Fuente: Earliest parietal art: hominin hand and foot traces from the middle Pleistocene of Tibet. David D. Zhang, Matthew R. Bennett, Hai Cheng, Leibin Wang, Haiwei Zhang, Sally C. Reynolds, Shengda Zhang, Xiaoqing Wang, Teng Li , Tommy Urban, Qing Pei, Zhifeng Wu, Pu Zhang, Chunru Liu, Yafeng Wang, Cong Wang, Dongju Zhang, R. Lawrence Edwards.

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