Researchers have found a 13,800-year-old sketch made on stone that illustrates the camp of hunter gatherers, shedding some light on the lives of ancient humans.
The sketch of the Palaeolithic artist offers clues about how early communities developed and about how our ancestors lived.
In 2013, archaeologists discovered the engraving – dating back to the Upper Palaeolithic era – at the Moli del Salt site in Spain, which is located approximately 30 miles (about 48.2 kilometres) from Barcelona.
Marcos García-Diez, of Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Leioa with expertise in Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, History of Art, and Manuel Vaquero Rodríguez, a researcher in the Rovira and Virgili University (URV) and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology, said that the new discovery is different from other artistic trends dating back to that period, because it focuses on the social realm.
According to researchers, features of the everyday world were not represented very often in Palaeolithic art. The focus was on signs and symbolic motifs like animals, both of which were related to religious or magical recurrent themes of the Upper Palaeolithic period.
The authors of the paper – Vaquero and García-Diez – said that this engraving that features campsites can be considered one of the first depictions of humans’ social and domestic space. It is the first representation of campsites or human landscape.
The campsites provide clues about the proportion, morphology and frequency of the huts in the Palaeolithic era, researchers say. For instance, the dome shape of the tents suggest that they were built quickly, which means that early hunter-gatherers did not require long-tem campsites. Dome-shaped structures also imply that mobile and seasonal settlement systems were favoured, the authors noted.
Judging by the sketches, the researchers were able to tell that the huts were wider than they are high. The seven huts also provided some clues about food resources and the socio-economical organisation, because the number of huts in a camp can vary depending on the two aforementioned factors.
According to the authors of the paper, the 13,800-year-old sketch also suggests that for the artist who created it, the human world was his/ her main interest.
The findings were published December 2 in the journal PLOS ONE.
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