Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • In 1879, amateur archaeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola

  • and his young daughter Maria explored a dark cave in Northern Spain.

  • When Maria wandered off by herself, she made an amazing discovery.

  • They were standing inside a site of ancient art,

  • the walls and roofs decorated with prehistoric paintings and engravings,

  • ranging from 19,000 to 35,000 years old.

  • Similar marks of our ancestors have been preserved in caves all over the world.

  • The oldest we've found were made up to 40,000 years ago.

  • What do these images tell us about the ancient human mind

  • and the lives of their creators?

  • These early artists mixed minerals, clay, charcoal, and ochre with spit or animal fat

  • to create paint.

  • They drew with their hands and tools, like pads of moss, twigs, bones, and hair.

  • In many instances, their images follow the contours of the cave

  • to create depth and shade.

  • The most common depictions are of geometric shapes,

  • followed by large mammals, like bison, horses, mammoths, deer, and boars.

  • Human figures appear rarely, as well as occasional hand prints.

  • Some have theorized that these artworks are the creation of hunters,

  • or of holy men in trance-like states.

  • And we've found examples created by men, women, and even children.

  • And why did they create this art?

  • Perhaps they were documenting what they knew about the natural world,

  • like modern scientists,

  • or marking their tribal territory.

  • Maybe the images were the culmination of sacred hunting rituals

  • or spiritual journeys.

  • Or could they be art for art's sake, the sheer joy and fulfillment of creation?

  • As with many unsolved mysteries of the ancient world,

  • we may never know for sure,

  • barring the invention of a time machine, that is.

  • But while the answers remain elusive,

  • these images are our earliest proof of human communication,

  • testifying to the human compacity fo creativity

  • thousands of years before writing.

  • They are a distinct visual language that imagines the world outside the self,

  • just like modern art forms,

  • from graffiti and painting to animated virtual-reality caves.

In 1879, amateur archaeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 US TED-Ed cave art ancient maria human

【TED-Ed】Explore cave paintings in this animated cave - Iseult Gillespie

  • 2196 201
    April Lu posted on 2017/10/20
Video vocabulary