Art in Early Human Evolution: Socially Driven Art Forms versus Material Art

Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 1 (1):149-158 (2017)
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Abstract

Art is a human communicative system that relies on referential cognition of thoughts, emotions, and experiences through symbolic meanings, which explains why only humans have art and why it is ubiquitously present throughout human societies. Archaeological evidence for early material art signals presence of symbolic and abstract cognition. In early human life in Africa the symbolism afforded by group dance formation would have been more advantageous for survival than individual artistic expression, but it would not leave archaeological physical traces. Slipping into synchronized movements is a natural form of expressing interpersonal unity and symbolically signaling the members' affiliation to the group. In sharp contrast, production of material art encourages individual virtuosity in talent, something only a select few would possess, and in this regard it is not as inclusive as group dance. It is proposed here that the early Homo sapiens relied on symbolic expressions of intermember unity through group dance.

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