The ancient world and it’s part in the evolution of our current kind of mind seems to be a theme for me these days. So here’s a bit more, inspired by a recent post on metafilter about the Bradshaws, rock paintings in Australia. From the excellent cave and rock art site named after those paintings, the Bradshaw Foundation, come a batch of great pages on the great painted caves of France including Lascaux, on cro-magnon art mobilier (the hand held art carvings such as venuses and animal art), and this interesting page on geometric signs in the ancient painted caves.

Geometric signs from cave art at Niaux

Geometric signs from cave art at Niaux

Ive always thought the geometric signs in the caves, typically dots, dashes, lines, and simple shapes, were some of the most interesting and mysterious things left behind by our big-brained ancestors in those natural time capsules. I have long thought that they were evidence of the beginning of evidence of the human power of abstraction, which is the origin of writing, numbers, mathematics, and geometry, money, calendars, and so many of the things which made modern civilization and the modern kind of humans possible. Now, as the “Indiana Jones” days of painted cave study is thankfully (but sadly) over, we can start to see a new type of research be carried out, as we apply the best modern techniques and the new types of imaging to studying ancient art and technology.

Geometric signs in cave art