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40.000 years ago - First cultural artifacts


Some authorities believe that language arose suddenly, about 40,000 years ago. This is the time period from which we first see cultural artifacts, such as cave paintings and carved figurines. The relatively sudden appearance of these artifacts lead some to speculate that the cultural leap may have been prompted by the development of language which in turn allowed greater creativity to flourish.

This "late hypothesis", was constructed to explain the contrast between what appeared to be extreme technological stagnation over some two million years of tool-making and the "take-off" of about 40,000 - 50,000 years ago that produced more sophisticated technologies, cave art, evidence of ritual burials, and eventually the Neolithic invention of agriculture that in ten or twelve thousand short years made us what we are today. More than tool technology, it is the appearance at this time of the first indubitable signs of "culture"—that is, ritual, religious culture—that gave this hypothesis its plausibility.

 

Further information and links:

www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap0501/gans.htm