The Lombardy Archeological Association, the Camuno Center for Prehistoric Studies, and the Le Orme dell’Uomo Archaeological Cooperative are organizing a talk by Marcos García Diez entitled “Neanderthals – The First Artists of Europe” as part of the events related to the 20th INTERNATIONAL ROCK ART CONGRESS – IFRAO, which will take place from August 29th to September 2nd, 2018 in Darfo Boario Terme, Valcamonica.
Marcos García Diez is an archaeologist and specialist in paleolithic art from the Universidad Isabel I (Burgos, Spain) and author of a recent article published in the prestigious journal Science on the oldest manifestations of wall art on the Iberian peninsula.
Until recently, paleolithic rock art in Europe has been largely associated with Homo sapiens, but Diez’s recent research, published in Science, opens the door to new paleoanthropological interpretations. Diez used Uranium-Thorium (U / Th) dating methods to assess the age of the calcitic encrustations on the red paintings in the caves of La Pasiega (Puente Viesgo), Maltravieso (Caceres) and Ardales or de Trinidad Grund (Ardales). His findings suggest a terminus ante quem of at least 25,000 years older.
Who then painted these caves? Using current dating schemes, we would have to say Homo neandertalensis. Diez’s discovery is part of a general revision of our understandings of the cognitive and symbolic capacities of Neanderthals. Recent studies have discovered the use of feathers for decorative purposes in the Fumane cave and of marine shells and mineral pigments in the cueva de los Aviones. There has also been a reconsideration of the dates of the movement of Homo sapiens “out of Africa”. Dating at the Israeli site of Misliya point to an exodus between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago.
The debate is therefore open.
• Gabriella Brusa Zappellini: Lombardy Archeological Association, former university professor of Aesthetics and Art History
• Angelo Eugenio Fossati: L’Orme dell’Uomo Archaeological Cooperative, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan
• Translation and presentation: Dario Sigari – University of Ferrara, Universitat Rovira I Virgili (Tarragona, Spain)