According to a recent release from the Associated Press, a recently discovered series of lines carved into cave rock in Europe could constitute proof positive that cavemen, specifically Neanderthals, were more creative and intelligent than previously believed. An international team of scientists that found the markings inside Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar, in the United Kingdom, believe the X-shaped etchings are the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art.
This is a first-rate find because it demonstrates that present-day people and their long gone cave cousins shared a common capacity for creativity. Paul Tacon, an expert in rock art at Australia’s Griffith University, told the press: “We will never know the meaning the design held for the maker or the Neanderthals who inhabited the cave, but the fact that they were marking their territory in this way before modern humans arrived in the region has huge implications for debates about what it is to be human and the origin of art.”
As is often the case with new discoveries there are those who are skeptical. Some archaeologists question Neanderthals making the cave carvings. In fact, according to one recent research project, Neanderthals and modern-day humans actually “overlapped by several thousand years.”
Clive Gamble, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton in England, stated: “Any discovery that helps improve the public image of Neanderthals is welcome. We know they spoke, lived in large social groups, looked after the sick, buried their dead and were highly successful in the ice-age environments of northern latitudes. As a result, rock engraving should be entirely within their grasp.”
Gamble had one specific concern about creative cavemen: “What is critical, however, is the dating.” He concluded: “While I want Neanderthals to be painting, carving and engraving, I’m reserving judgment.”
Ancient Artwork Reveals Cavemen Creative