Hashtag the age of 100 000 years: beauty or symbolism?

Hashtag the age of 100 000 years: beauty or symbolism?

The first “hashtag” people have graced the walls of South African caves more than 100,000 years ago, however, archaeologists are still arguing about it.

About 100,000 years ago, ancient people began to leave the drawings on the red rocks in the South African caves. Such a painting as a kind of hashtags is one of the first evidence that members of our species have learned to create symbols (signs that have a special meaning), which indicates a complex brain activities. However, new research is presented at the conference on evolution of language Evolang, finds that such drawings could not be symbols. Scientists believe that instead of practical use such patterns could be used for aesthetic enjoyment or decorate the interior of caves.

Prehistoric emoticons

Christian Taylen, a cognitive scientist from Aarhus University in Denmark, along with his team studied dozens of covered with ochre stones found in the cave’s blombos. The drawings, discovered on its territory, attract the attention of researchers for quite some time: some believe that it is primitive art, others – that these characters were the progenitors of writing. Ancient people drew not only on the rocks: a group of Taylena also studied the collection of shells from ostrich eggs from another site, which is also covered with parallel lines and patterns. The age of these shells is from 52 000 to 109 000 years – people have emerged as a species, but not yet invented such kind of painting as the famous cave paintings.

Taylen thought that if the signs were of the kind of jewelry they should carry a pleasing to the human eye patterns, which would be memorable. In this case, it is very likely that people still have portrayed similar pictures. On the other hand, if the signs were symbols, for the sake of example, a wavy line depicted to the water, the characters to be different from each other and over time would become more apparent. As an example, the scientist gives a modern touch, although they resemble each other but have a strong personality.

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The test of time

In order to find out the truth, the scientist has been asked 65 students to learn all 24 samples and then try to copy them or sort them into groups. Researchers needed to know whether the figures are recognizable to the human eye sequence, which could be copied even after a cursory glance. The result was that the human eye takes from 2 to 12 seconds to perform and memorize the patterns; in addition, the later figures were more simple for them to copy, which suggests that over time, they became more correct and aesthetically pleasing. However, to sort the images into groups or isolate a certain regularity in their sequence.

As a result, a team of Talena was forced to abandon the understanding that they are dealing with symbols. His colleague Corey Stud, an archaeologist from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, notes that a similar conclusion, while it looks logical, but can not be considered final. “Archaeologists often believe that certain ancient images carry a special meaning, not only beauty, but opportunities to test this hypothesis the scientists there. our understanding of the primitive culture, “she said.


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