13 April 2007

Animal pictures

Via the Wild Hunt, I learn that David Attenborough asks an interesting question.
Animals were the first things that human beings drew. Not plants. Not landscapes. Not even themselves. But animals. Why?
His answer turns out to be a non-answer, that animals are beautiful. But the question remains interesting to contemplate, and the history of drawings of animals that he offers is fascinating.


Al said...

Plants don't run away when you try to eat them. :-)

Anonymous said...

One of my chief complaints regarding the interpretation of archeology is the idea that if you find the oldest something, there is an assumption that it is the oldest something rather than the oldest something found.

For example, there are rock carvings of women that are "dated" at 22000 BCE. But thats just what we've found. It doesn't prove that people weren't carving women in 40000 bce or even 400000 bce. So the fact that the carvings of animals are the oldest doesn't prove anything other than the fact that we haven't found anything older. Going back to one of my favorite axioms; lack of evidence is not evidence of lack, especially where archeology is concerned.

That said, I think that people "artified" things that were dangerous. Animals kill you, rather dramatically. Birth can kill you, or your sexual partner. Pretty traumatic, art inspiring stuff. Plants can kill you too. But theres less action, and its harder to describe by chiseling into cave walls.
Of course its all guess work since the evidence is nearly non-existant.