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The Origins of Art Dr Amanda Markham Department of Archaeology Flinders University Adelaide South Australia Introduction The question

of when did hominids first begain producing art has been linked to both cognitive and cultural changes in early Homo sapiens populations. Recent reframings of what comprises art, which take into account both mobilitary and parietal forms, have pushed back the origins of art to hominid species pre-dating Homo sapiens. The rapid increase of parietal art in the Upper Paleolithic, also calledknown as the ‘cCreative eExplosion’ has been attributed more recently attributed to increasing Homo sapiens sapiens populations, the need to define territory, contact with other groups, and the emergence of shamanic and initiatory ritual, as a way to explain why rock art only appeared during the anatomical modern humans expansion out of Africa, and not early on with the Sapiens appearance in Africa. Definition Prior to the eighteenth century, the term ‘art’ was applied broadly to any human skill, from weaving to farming, writing or hunting. Following the Industrial Revolution, extensive changes in European society such as the separation of church and state, the emergence of the market economy and the growth of the middle classes saw a reframing of the notion of ‘art’ from a broad association with any form of human endeavor to one associated closely with contemporary Western understandings of ‘art’ as highly individualized works of aesthetic inspiration and achievement (i.e. the ‘fine’ arts: painting, literature, sculpture, poetry, architecture and music). Activities that were formerly classified as ‘art’ and associated with utility or pleasure, such as weaving, woodcarving, or even sailing, were reclassified as ‘crafts’ after this time. Recent debates within archaeology about the concept and origins of art have successfully challenged the dichotomy between fine arts and crafts outlined above. These later arguments contend that art should be seen as any image or symbol produced by hominids, designed by its maker to commmunicatenvey meaning to self or others. Key Issues/Current Debates/Future Directions/Examples There are a number of key issues concerning the origins of art and its study within archaeology. The central question of ‘when did humans start making art?’ is closely linked to the notion of ‘what can be defined as art?’.

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Amanda Markham: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology/The Origins of Art


and furthermore. The production of art is often considered to be a defining trait of Homo sapiens sapiens. and other portable objects. the question of ‘when did symbolic thinking emerge in hominids?’ has also become a central issue in the study of the origins of art.there is little disagreement amongst archaeologists that early humans used ochre and other pigments to paint the body. may not posses a corresponding term for ‘art’ in their lexicon at all. As a further consequence of this reframing of art. there is a recent publication that I have included in the references. Pigments found in sites used by Homo erectus in South Africa and Becov (Czech Republic) have been dated at 800. utilitarian and non-utilitarian. This thinking has lead to a redefining of art as ‘symbolic image-making’. hunting. A number of Neanderthal sites in France have also yielded pigments polished into ‘crayon’ shapes.000BP. a skeleton sprinkled with red powder. that leaves the door open to the option of Neandertals being involved in some early forms of rock art. However. marking stone tools. and in mortuary practices. so please include the reference. comprising engravings or paintings on large rocks. as well as in the treatment of animal skins.000BP and ca. where marks or images are intentionally made on a surface by a hominid to convey meaning to the maker or to others. and. archaeologists and anthropologists studying the origins of art have questioned queried the Western dichotomy between fine art and crafts. Prehistorians now recognize two broad categories of art: ‘mobilitary art’ which is art created on the body. in tandem with the marking of portable objects and tools expanded the definition of what is considered art. each moving through time in uneven and highly individual ways. This view has now been discredited by archaeological evidence. Whilst some archaeologists link the earliest evidence of symbolic thinking with the first appearance of concentrated ochre pigments in hominid occupation sites Formatted: Font: Not Italic Formatted: Font: Not Italic Formatted: Highlight Comment [ID1]: Provide references. the widespread presence of pigments in sites occupied by them has been interpreted to suggests not only the presence of symbolic thinking. Although neither Homo neandertalis nor Homo erectus appears to have created cave paintings or other forms of rock art. For example. ‘parietal art’. tools. This use of pigments to mark the body. Another contention concerns the evolutionary assumptions inherent within Western notions of art. there is evidence that hominids from Homo erectus onwards through to Homo neandertalis were using pigments. but also the use of pigment in body decoration. Comparative evidence from ethnography demonstrates the use of ochre painting of the body in ritual. profane. So include this option as suggested by som findings. bones and possibly wooden tools with cuts and other symbols to communicate symbolic information. 250. in caves or on rock shelter walls.Since the late nineteenth century. Whilst some uses of ochre were certainly utilitarian –cauterizing wounds. the archaeological record demonstrates that the human past is characterized by a diversity of cultures and technologies existing concurrently and contiguously. respectively. where ‘fine arts’ are seen as the pinnacle of human achievement along a progressive trajectory (Moro Abadia 2006). I don’t know a reference as old as 80000 BP. and at Le Monsieur. representing the development of the cognitive ability to think symbolically and produce representational images or symbols which convey some form of nonarbitrary meaning to others. as well as the utility of the Western concept of ‘art’ itself. this is too vague and the are hot discussions about the earliest evidence of the use of pigments. Comment [ID2]: Well. Rather than being a simple linear progression. protection against insects. Amanda Markham: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology/The Origins of Art 2 . ethnographic evidence gathered since the late-nineteenth century demonstrates that many non-Western cultures do not separate ‘art’ from other human activities classified as sacred.

the decoration of antlers. Comment [ID3]: This is contradictory. suggesting that the cognitive abilities to produce such symbols also preexisted the ‘cCreative eExplosion’. roles and behaviors.000BP.000BP. Firstly. A number of explanations exist within current discussions of the topic: art was created to reflect the reality of the artist’s everyday life and experiences. Again. Secondly. the sculpture of human and animal figurines. or. Indeed. within specific regions there are discrete temporal and spatial discontinuities within art forms and styles.000BP. nor the reasons for which the art was created in the first place (c. and finally. being an attempt by the artist to empower themselves. regional styles and localized temporal progressions. with current studies tending to focus on dating the age of art. referenc necessary. ritual and territory marking. Bahn. suggesting that such pigments would have been used to paint bodies and tools. describing the materials used. This period in the upper Paleolithic has been called the ‘Creative Explosion’. The linking of the ‘cCreative eExplosion’ to the emergence of a discrete set of symbolic human cognitive abilities at this time has been challenged by on several counts. bone and ivory. effect supernatural change in the ordinary world or to represent their journey to the ‘otherworlds’. where population increases and contact with other humans led to the need for new social institutions. and the creation of beads. 1998).000BP are those derived from socio-cultural changes in human populations. Formatted: Highlight Formatted: Highlight Formatted: Highlight Comment [ID5]: Include examples Formatted: Font: Not Italic Amanda Markham: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology/The Origins of Art 3 . such as trade. art arises following shamanic or other altered states. not all scholars agree that contemporary ethnographic evidence can be used to accurately ascertain the meanings ancient artists intended with their art. However. where art was produced for several thousand years and then disappeareds from the archaeological record altogether. where the archaeological record becomes rich with paintings on cave walls. Lorblanchet 2007. Some of these populations were making ‘art’.in Zambia. dated at around 270. take into account the latests dates for palaeolithic art. and why art is created. stone and ivory appear. the contexts in which the art are located. Formatted: Highlight Comment [ID4]: Again. some of whichhom had been in situ since 60. there is a strong trend away from interpreting the meaning of prehistoric art in this way. A key issue in the origins of art relates directly to these forms of cultural innovation and change: the question of ‘what does art mean?’ The question of meaning in the origins of art is one that derives its impetus from the perspective notion of art being created by the human need to communicate information to the self or others. amulets and other personal adornments. whilst others were not. there exists a number of examples of art which pre-date 40. others argue that that hard evidence of symbolic image-making does not appear until 40. it suddenly appeareds in populations who appear seemed to be isolated from other humans. by 40. when the first figurative engravings on bones. Alternative explanations for the intensification of symbol and image-making around 40.000-30.f. that art is associated with initiatory or secret/sacred rituals or with increase ceremonies.000BP. then why this reference is not considered now to suggest the earliest evidence of symbolic thinking. Lastly. If you are mentioning the presence of pigments in sites dating back 800000 BP.000BP there were numerous dispersed populations of Homo sapiens sapiens spread out across the globe. Contemporary ethnographic evidence from huntergatherer societies in the south-western Africa and Australia have frequently been used to support these such interpretations of what art means.

The Cambridge illustrated history of prehistoric art.C Taçon. Archaeology of Iconography as a Tool in Classical Archaeology Paleoart Studies Research and Scientific Methods Paleolithic Art Pigment Analysis in Archaeology Rock Art Recording Methods from Traditional to Digital Rock Art. regional styles and contexts. Cognitive explanations for the ‘ cCreative eExplosion’ in the Upper Paleolithic are now being rejected in favor of socio-cultural explanations associated with population increases in Homo sapiens sapiens around this time. Theories and Progress Hunter-Gatherers. C. B. Symbolic revolutions and the Australian archaeological record. Smith & P. Rock Art in European Upper Paleolithic. 1998. Archaeology of Art. Types of Australian Paleoart Dating Methods (Absolute and Relative) in Archaeology of Art Europe. Paleolithic Art in Europe. analysis of the materials used. Pigments found in occupation sites associated with Homo erectus and Homo neandertalis. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15: 157-175. altered states of consciousness and ‘clever men’ in Amanda Markham: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology/The Origins of Art 4 .In summary. The recognition of mobilitary art.B. Cross References Art Analysis. has challenged archaeologists and prehistorians to rethink the origins of art.. Chippendale. Theoretical Frameworks in Art. suggesting the use of ochre for the decoration of the body and other implements.S. A. G. 2000. P. Rock Art of Form in Archaeology of Art Human Evolutions. Forms of References Bahn.Moore. Visions of dynamic power: Archaic rock-paintings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.W. Prehistoric Art in Europe. on bones and antlers.. Brumm. such as markings and pigments on stone tools. & M. Current trends in the study of the origins of art focus upon dating art. Mesolithic and Neolithic paintings in Europe. the origins of art. are now considered some of the earliest forms of art. once exclusively associated with the Upper Paleolithic. 2005. are now considered to pre-date Homo sapiens sapiens and as art is thought to be present in hominid populations world-wide.

J. R. Veth. S. 6(1): 119-141..A. 336 (6087): 1409-1413.W. W. Antiquity 81 (312): 409-422.G Jablonski (eds.). B. Moro Abadia. Journal of Social Archaeology.. B. Hitchcock (eds.Soffer. P.). Lovis & R. 1997. De Balbín.C & S.G. A. Wildgren (eds). Diogenes 54: 98-109. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. M. L. J. van Hausen and W.5" Formatted: List Paragraph. Balme & I. A.Langley. C. Spanish (Spain-Traditional Sort) Soffer. Worlds within Stone: The inner and outer rockart landscapes of northern Australia and southern Africa. Bulleted + Level: 1 + Aligned at: Formatted: Bullets and Numbering 0. Hoffmann. Wildgen.. Bulleted + Level: 1 + Aligned at: 0. The emergence of ornaments and art: an archaeological perspective on the Original of “behavioural modernity”. C. San Francisco: California Academy of the Sciences. Semiotic Evolution and the Dynamics of Culture: 111-142. Lorblanchet. - Formatted: List Paragraph. 2008. Bern: Peter Lang. O & M. In C. And Ulm. Behavioural Complexities in Eurasian Neanderthal Populations: a chronological examination of the archaeological evidence. Formatted: Font: Times. de las Heras.K. 2004. 2007. Information and its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands: 203220. M. O. 18 (3): 289307. 2007. Pictures in Place: The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art: 39-68. Pike. 10 pt. In R. . Beyond Art: Pleistocene Image and Symbol: 1-16. Stern. The origin of art.). W. Whallon. Ouzmann. O. The role of information exchange in the colonization of Sahul. The Paleolithic origins of art. Studying ancient visual cultures. In.5" Amanda Markham: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology/The Origins of Art 5 . 2007. Determining style in Paleolithic cave art: a new method derived from horse images.Western Arnhem Land (NT) Australia. P. D. 2006. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 10 (1): 63-101. Chippindale and G. Zilhão 2012. Bax. C. R. U-Series Dating of Palaeolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain. J. Alcolea. Lasheras. Davidson. Pigeaud. Taçon. Conkey. and the transition to writing.25" + Indent at: 0.Zilhao.Stratmann and N.W Conkey.Nash (eds. N. J. crafts and Paleolithic Art.  D. Arts.. J. Consider reviewing and reference the following papers: . M. Montes. P. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. its dynamic and topologicaltypological aspects. C.W.S. J. In M.25" + Indent at: 0. Clarkson. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press. González-Sainz. R. 2004. McDonald. Science. García-Diez. 2011. Pettitt.