How archaeologists can decide if prehistoric artefacts count as art


RGAJ63 Caveman painting in a cave

Esteban De Armas/Alamy

IN HIS poem The Conundrum of the Workshops, Rudyard Kipling imagined an early human pausing to admire a drawing he had scratched in the dirt, only to hear a voice whispering: “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”

Archaeologists know a bit about scratching in the dirt, and when their excavations reveal a beautiful ancient object, they find themselves asking the very same question. They are motivated by a desire to step inside the minds of our prehistoric ancestors. In many cases, they want to understand if and when ancient hominins began to create art, as we explore in…

Related Posts