Homo aestheticus

Shell beads from Blombos Cave, South Africa

Shell beads made 75,000 years ago

In Blombos Cave on the rocky coast of South Africa, archaeologists have been carefully excavating the earliest known examples of human art and jewelry – carved pieces of ochre and shells with holes drilled in them. It’s humbling to realize that we are heirs to an art-making legacy 75,000 years old.

For me, what is really important is here, for the first time really ever, we have evidence that people can store information outside of the human brain.

– Archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood, NOVA: Becoming Human

I love the way Henshilwood articulates it, that art is most essentially this: information stored outside the human brain. Art makes the inner life tangible in the outer world.


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