Take a moment

Here is a small miracle.  It is a picture of what maybe the earliest known artwork made by man.  That means it has been dated to approx 34,000 years old.  You are looking at an artefact crafted, sculpted by Cro-Magnon man, who lived in Europe and was later classed as belonging to the Aurignacian culture, meaning he belonged to the Upper Paleolithic culture located in Europe and South west  Asia. Before this time, our ancestors were not showing aspects of a sensibility that we are accusrtomed to , that we attach to our humanity.  Neanderthals and Cro Magnon man had co-existed and go back in lineage half a milion years, give or take. But something remarkable happened to the line of Homo Sapiens about 35000 years ago, and the records left to our archeologists show a marked contrast between the lives of the Cro Magnons, and the lineage from the Neanderthals.  The difference being an intellectual capacity that developed in the Cro-Magnon lineage, and was lacking in the Neanderthals, who had no symbolic content in their culture.  In contrast, the Cro Magnons were developing a capacity and potential for all sorts of new behaviours we attach to modern man.  This exquisite carving from mammoth bone of a horse reflects the grace and spirit of the creature, and has a tactile quality that makes me want to hold it in the palm of my hand . I would have to go to Germany , as it is held at Hohentubingen museum.

Who was this artist, who looked on nature, saw the beauty and wonder around him, and took up a tool to produce a likeness so reflective of the essence of horse, as full with meaning and spirituality as anything we term artistic today? He could never imagine the implication of this find almost 35000 years later.  How , having science and technology at our disposal, we can piece a jigsaw together, and peer backwards down a little further into the telescope of time.  Knowing too, that this culture had discovered music surely, since artefacts have been discovered that appear to be flutes made of bone, capable of producing complex sound. Were they dancing then, in their caves, after the hunt?  The new potential that spread amongst Cro Magnons in Europe had been developing elsewhere, in Africa  which shows evidence as far back as 70.000 years ago that Cro Magnon man was emerging with potentials beyond subsisting. The finds in Africa are signatures that Cro Magnon man were capable of organising their minds in a way that differed from previous hominids.  They were showing the potentials that were lacking in the Neanderthals, which had more or less died out by about 30000 years ago.

No one yet has a definitive explanation as to how Homo Sapiens developed the facility to think in a new more sophisticated way. That he did is the reason we are here today, and where human potential is destined is a further mystery. But it raises the beguiling thought that there may be more to art than meets the eye. Art may be the key to unlocking potential.  Einstein said it first ‘ Imagination is more important than knowledge’ Clever guy. t


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