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Venus Figurine Sheds Light On Origins Of Art By Early Humans

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Bianca
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« on: May 14, 2009, 08:10:29 am »









Little 'Venus'



The tiny statue is carved out of the tusk of a woolly mammoth and is less than 2.5 inches (60 millimeters) long. Instead of a head, it has a ring that scientists think meant it was worn as a pendant looped through string. Paleoanthropologist Nicholas Conard of Germany's Tubingen University reported the discovery in the May 14 issue of the journal Nature.

The oldest human art dates back much further, to between 75,000 and 95,000 years ago in Africa. But that art was abstract, and consisted of geometrical designs engraved on pieces of red iron oxide. This is the first known art to represent a woman, and possibly the first art to represent anything real at all. Another find, a simple drawing that may represent a half-man, half-animal, could be a few thousand years older, but the date on that is uncertain.

The jump from abstract art to representative art seems significant, and might reflect a leap in the cognitive capacity of the human brain around this time. Some experts think that the development might have gone along with a leap in the complexity of human language.

"Language is a symbolic system words are symbols for things. And so is art," Mellars said. "Art is a glaring illustration of a capacity for symbolic thinking. Since symbolic thinking lies at the core of language, people have often tried to link the two."

Mellars pointed out that there isn't enough evidence to really understand how complex human language was at this point, though.
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