Portable art from Pleistocene Sulawesi.

08:00 EDT 16th March 2020 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Portable art from Pleistocene Sulawesi."

The ability to produce recognizable depictions of objects from the natural world-known as figurative art-is unique to Homo sapiens and may be one of the cognitive traits that separates our species from extinct hominin relatives. Surviving examples of Pleistocene figurative art are generally confined to rock art or portable three-dimensional works (such as figurines) and images engraved into the surfaces of small mobile objects. These portable communicative technologies first appear in Europe some 40 thousand years ago (ka) with the arrival of H. sapiens. Conversely, despite H. sapiens having moved into Southeast Asia-Australasia by at least 65 ka, very little evidence for Pleistocene-aged portable art has been identified, leading to uncertainties regarding the cultural behaviour of the earliest H. sapiens in this region. Here, we report the discovery of two small stone 'plaquettes' incised with figurative imagery dating to 26-14 ka from Leang Bulu Bettue, Sulawesi. These new findings, together with the recent discovery of rock art dating to at least 40 ka in this same region, overturns the long-held belief that the first H. sapiens of Southeast Asia-Australasia did not create sophisticated art and further cements the importance of this behaviour for our species' ability to overcome environmental and social challenges.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Nature human behaviour
ISSN: 2397-3374


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