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Science Breakthroughs of 2014: Ancient Art

December 29, 2014

Science Breakthroughs of 2014: When did humans first become artists?



Ancient art from an unexpected place. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Each year, the editors of Science magazine pick the biggest breakthroughs of the past year, and this week on Science Update, we’ll report on the top five. Today, the discovery of 40,000-year old cave paintings in Indonesia at least as old as the well-known cave art in Europe. Science Deputy News Editor Robert Koontz says the discovery challenges our theories about when humans first became capable of symbolic representation.

ROBERT KOONTZ (Science magazine):

A lot of people thought that the European art efflorescence marked some sort of new stage in the development of the human mind. Turns out it was happening in Indonésia, too. So that raises the possibility that maybe people had already developed this symbolic sense before they spread out of Africa 60,000 or so years ago, and they took it with them to the rest of the world.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.