We’ve all seen a cave painting or two, those (frankly rubbish, I could do much better) red scrawlings on the rock of bulls and chickens and whatnot, and up until now, we just assumed they were done by early man. Grunting and banging their clubs, scratching on the walls in the pursuit of being the next big thing in the art world.
Turns out though, that the very first cave paintings, like a bunch found in the Cave of La Pasiega, Spain, have been dated using new techniques, and they’ve been around for a much longer time than us humans. Tests that were made on the calcium carbonate and rock that formed over the ochre (the red stuff, made from mixing mud with water) discovered that they’re about 65,000 years old. That’s 20,000 years before we came along and ruined everything.
Alistair Pike, an archaeologist from the University of Southampton (or ‘rock star’ if you will), says:
“The only species that were around at that time were Neanderthals.
“So, therefore, the paintings must’ve been made by them.
“We’re over the moon. This has taken us 10 years to get to this point.”
Neanderthals were not the humans that we know and hate today, they were our ancestors, whose bones were first discovered in Europe in the 19th century and were essentially dumb idiot versions of us. A subspecies of the modern human, previously thought of as not having the cranial capacity for ‘art’. The proverbial ‘plonker’.
However, these paintings in Spain would most likely have required planning, organisation and perhaps even language - another thing our old cousins were supposedly incapable of.
And it’s not just terrible, unrealistic doodles of cows that wouldn’t get anywhere near my fridge door; rudimentary jewelry was also found in a nearby cave. Shells were discovered that had holes drilled through their middles, presumably to allow them to be threaded onto some sort of string and warn round the neck at the disco. Again, a tough project for someone we previously thought moronic.
Pike says of the findings:
“I think we should accept them as part of us. They are part of our lineage, they are human, they’re just a different human population.”
Of course, as with any scientific discovery, there’s a bit of contention here. Firstly, the new dating technique must hold up, as it’s not exact and results in a number of possible dates - so seeing as there was an overlap between us lot and the Neanderthals in Europe, it’s possible that the modern human might even have arrived earlier than we thought.
Either way, one singular fact remains: those idiots couldn’t draw for shit.