back to article Cave scrawls prove Neanderthals were AT LEAST as talented as modern artists

A primitive and apparently meaningless marking ground into a rock by a Neanderthal using a crude implement more than 39,000 years ago would appear to support the idea that the pre-human ape-men possessed artistic faculties at least as sophisticated as those of the "young British artists" movement of the '90s. Dahling, such …

  1. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Crude scrawl?

    It's evidently a spreadsheet to keep track of hunting kills.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Crude scrawl?

      It's evidently a spreadsheet to keep track of hunting kills.

      I thought it was a map of Milton Keynes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crude scrawl?

        Milton Keynes *is* an alien spreadsheet.

        1. launcap Silver badge

          Re: Crude scrawl?

          >Milton Keynes *is* an alien spreadsheet.

          Aaand we're back in the world of The Laundry..

      2. breakfast Silver badge

        Re: Crude scrawl?

        "What is it Ug?"

        "Ug have vision. Ug see great camp of many caves. This picture is map of camp."

        "Who has camp?"

        "Ug not know. But it bigger than all the camps in the world. It guarded by great bison made of stone."

        "Do you think was future, Ug?"

        "Ug says it was a true seeing."


        "Perhaps we choose extinction instead, Ug."

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Crude scrawl?

          Breakfast, you have too much time on your hands.

          I approve.

          Steven R

        2. BlueGreen

          Re: Crude scrawl? @breakfast

          class. Thank you.

        3. Amorous Cowherder

          Re: Crude scrawl?

          Why did I hear Kate Robbins voice reading the part of Ug in breakfast's post?!! Time of the pub methinks!

    2. ckm5

      Re: Crude scrawl?

      No, no. It's a Twitter #hash tag

      I mean. what else could it be?

  2. Dr Who

    It says "I woz 'ere" and "Kev 4 Shaz 37000BC"

    1. DJV Silver badge

      @Dr Who

      With your moniker I'm surprised you hadn't suggested that it said "Hello Sweetie!"

    2. Martin Budden

      @Dr Who

      With your moniker I'm surprised you hadn't suggested that it said "BAD WOLF"

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Naughts and crosses

    Doesn't say who won.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Naughts and crosses

      Crosses won. Noughts hadn't been invented yet...

    2. returnmyjedi

      Re: Naughts and crosses

      They gave up and played a nice game of Global Thermonuclear War instead. Only with pointed sticks.

    3. TitterYeNot

      Re: Naughts and crosses

      Pfft! Naughts and crosses? It's obviously the corner of a pre-historic scrabble board, and if they have a proper look at the contents of the previously undisturbed sediments, they'll find the remains of a small bag and the following letters:-

      W H A T D O Y O U G E T I F Y O U M U L T I P L Y S I X B Y N I N E

      F O R T Y T W O

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


    These archeologists are idiots! They claim that they can prove the age of the piece by clearing away all the old sediment. They've ruined the artwork!

    This was 'Unmade Cave' by Ugh son-of-Grunt, and they've destroyed it.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Graham Marsden

    "at least as talented as modern artists"

    Talk about damning with faint praise...!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know what it is...

    It's a prehistoric Hashtag, the first recorded hashtag in history!

    #mammothmeatrocks anyone?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I know what it is...


      1. Daniel von Asmuth

        Re: I know what it is...

        It denotes the Neander Pound currency, or it's the name of a minor deity.

        1. Ship of Fools

          Re: I know what it is...

          Neander Pound? More likely the currency now pronounced "dollar", the Neander Thaler.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Even in the Pleistocene

      Twitter was a pain in the arse.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Even in the Pleistocene

        The reason dinosaurs died out was Facebook.

        They should have been ideal users, due to the small brains, but it turns out their arms were too short. Every time they reached for the mouse, they fell over... After falling on your face/snout/nose 15 times a day, you'd die out too...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's obviously a Mondrian

    Small Mondrian

    They only had black and white in those days, as you can see from old photographs.

    1. Alan Edwards

      Re: It's obviously a Mondrian

      Looks like Mondrian did the original UI design for Metro :-)

    2. dr john

      Re: It's obviously a Mondrian

      An early Mondrian was exactly what I was thinking...

      Style and taste is evident.

      PS there are no artists in the world called Tracey Emin.

      Unless you count con-artists

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some would say that the crude scrawl hardly suggests a high level of intellectual capacity

    You are refering to the cave offering, right?

  10. Otto is a bear.

    Has Charles Saatchi put in a bid yet

    Or perhaps it's an early Banksie. One for the Tate classic perhaps.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Has Charles Saatchi put in a bid yet

      Dear sirs,

      I deplore the vandalism of these so called artists scratching on the walls of public caves for their so-called art. It would have never happened in my day.

      Ugg (major retd)

  11. Khaptain Silver badge

    Picasso's ancestors

    Since I am not an art aficionado and have very little understanding of the "conceptual-ism" behind some of todays ideas, I would hazard to state, in judging this modest cave conception, that the Neanderthals were equally as intelligent as we are today.

    Fortunately for them they probably didn't have to suffer 2 hours of queueing to get into the cave to see the aforementioned chef d'oeuvre.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Picasso's ancestors

      I object! There is a varying level of intelligence in the population (as anybody who has ever done/supervised first line support will bitterly agree) and I think it's fair to assume that the Neanderthals had a similar range of intelligence.

      Therefore, it's obvious that the most intelligent Neanderthals were more intelligent than the least intelligent people in the human race, which admittedly is setting a very, very low standard.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Picasso's ancestors

        As a spokeman for the parks service said about the design of bear-proof garbage cans.

        "The difficulty is that there is considerable overlap between the smartest bears and the dumbest visitors"

  12. RockBurner

    Who's more (or less) intelligent....

    ... the artist, or the one who actually forks over huge amounts of money for a few scribbles?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who's more (or less) intelligent....

      The buyer, if he is an advertising man who can persuade lots of people that the scribbles are worth a lot of money, sell them on, and then get out before the market collapses.

      BritArt, of course, is the work of enormously talented people and was recognised as such by Charles Saatchi. Just ask Brian Sewell.

  13. John Deeb

    the title of the master piece

    I'm pretty sure the original title waS:

    "Bored Neanderthaler locked inside a cave"

  14. Winkypop Silver badge

    Neanderthal share cave

    It's a roster of who has to do the cleaning.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Neanderthal share cave

      "It's a roster of who has to do the cleaning."

      shame - if only that unmade bed with a (used) pre-historic condom was not cleared up...

      1. Ship of Fools

        Re: Prehistoric condom

        Rock around the ...? Err, I was just leaving.

  15. Mephistro

    "pre-human ape-men"

    This description of the Neanderthals was fashionable until the nineteen fifties. Nowadays, most anthropologists reckon the Neanderthals to be our equals, intellectually speaking. If they were still alive today, we'd probably classify them as just another human race (whatever that means).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "pre-human ape-men"

      Unfortunately for the Neanderthals, we were the lot that went in for land theft and genocide. There is some evidence that H. sapiens sapiens nearly went extinct around 40 000 years ago, being reduced to a precarious existence on the coast of South Africa. Failing to top ourselves completely was bad news for H. sapiens neanderthalensis, and the Denisovans, another earlier human race. Since then we've had to practice on ourselves, there being nobody else left. Which is doubtless why we've got so good at it.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "pre-human ape-men"

        Surely it would have been too confusing had the Denisovans won out. An entire world population called Dennis? I'm Dennis, and so is my wife...

        1. Martin Maloney

          Re: "pre-human ape-men"

          "Hi, I'm Dennis, this is my brother Dennis, and this is my other brother Dennis."

  16. Ralph B

    Art or Design?

    repeatedly passing a robust cutting tip over the rock in the same direction

    I wonder if it is not more likely that the Neanderthaler was just sharpening his cutting tool, rather than (intentionally) creating art.

    1. Grikath

      Re: Art or Design?

      Nope. You don't sharpen a stone tool in a way that leaves marks like that. In fact, you'd only blunt it.

    2. Ralph B

      Re: Art or Design?

      OK, 2nd idea: I wonder if it is not more likely that the Neanderthaler was just DBAN-ing a nude selfie cave painting that was causing embarrassment in his social network.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Art or Design?

      cart before the horse?

      I think the researchers have never done anything mindlessly repetitve in their lives. I think that if they had to cut animal skins or treebark into similar pieces, they'd hold it up against the wall and run their flint knife down the groove, over and over again.

      Either that, or they were trying to teach their offspring to count and only ever got to 1.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC coverage declares this about making the marks ...

    "If you did it in a single session, you would most probably injure your hand, unless you cover your tool with a piece of skin".

    Could we pls see this in Playmobil?


    1. glen waverley
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The BBC coverage declares this about making the marks ...

      " cover your tool with a piece of skin "

      I am impressed that the archaeologists can tell that Ug the artist was uncircumcised.

      Paris 'cos.

  18. Elmer Phud

    You're all wrong!

    This is obviously absolutley nothing to do with Neanderthals.

    This is a part of alien air-traffic control as described by Eric Von Daniken.

    I know, I've read the books, it must be true!

  19. disgruntled yank


    Is the National Academy of Science august, or is this the August issue of the proceedings, or both?

    The pictured work is certainly on a level with anything Jeff Koons has produced. And I bet Steve Wynn would have a hard time putting his elbow through it, as he did with a Picasso some years ago.

  20. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Early Google map of the nearest village?

    I do find it interesting that boffins (or maybe just Uni types on a grant) are also art critics.

  21. Chris G


    Gibralter Rocks!

  22. willi0000000

    just the first attempt at plaid.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Keep digging!!!!

    You'll find about 100 more of those crosshatched patterns, and at the end of the engraving "Here where Urgo grow tired of this game--it pointless!"

    (And if we ever find Urgo in a glacier and thaw him out--"Urgo frozen 40,000 years and you still play stupid game??! You no civilized that you think!!!")

  24. ecofeco Silver badge


    "The results add to evidence at other sites that Neanderthal intellectual capacity may have previously been underestimated," the discoverers add.

    Some might even say "misunderestimated." (kewpie doll to the first person who knows this reference)

    Certainly no lack of people OVERestimating modern man's intelligence.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the UKIP manifesto.

  26. smartypants

    "A little like a hash tag"

    ...was how the BBC chose to describe this art to its Radio 3 listeners this morning.

    We did chuckle. Hashtag. Hashtag?

    (Sadly, for some time, the breakfast show has been suffering the consequences of some bbc social media loon's 'modernising' decisions. #bollocks #justPlayTheFeckingMusic #iDontCareWhatJoanFromMiltonKeynesThinksAboutBach)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "A little like a hash tag"


      Totally OT, but whilst you're there: did I miss something when R3 announced Sarah M-P was leaving, to be replaced by C B-H [1], only for Petroc to do most of the shows? Did he get upset at being passed over and muscle his way in?


  27. Triggerfish

    As good as our current artists.

    I think even Gorillas could give some of our artists a run for their money, I recommend you check Apple Chase on that link.

  28. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Perhaps it's just me, but I don't think it's art at all. It actually looks like the preliminary sketch for a building on Grand Designs ... a straight walled (almost), minimalist, cave-friendly structure with an entrance cave and 7 rooms off a central cave-atrium. Obviously the plans for the second floor were removed by the idiots digging ... Mineralisation? That was an example of possible cave-wall covering, and if they look hard enough there'll probably be evidence of sample moss scatter-cushions put there by Mrs Ugg and scratches indicating Mr Ugg's spear sharpening room

    1. Triggerfish

      Even all those years ago there was probably some poor sod was being told why its so important that all the clay pots match in style and shade of ochre.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I thought it was the initial plan for Heathrow's third runway ... 39,000 years seems about the right timescale for such a large planning decision.

  29. Dave Cheetham

    'pre-human ape-men possessed artistic faculties at least as sophisticated as those of the "young British artists" movement of the '90s.'

    ...or maybe the young British artist movement had an intellect the size of a Neanderthal. Sums up the crap produced by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Emin on a good day couldn't hold a candle - intellectually or artistically - to your average cave dweller.

    Stinking unmade beds are *not* art, and the people who buy that cr@p for millions of pounds are not connoisseurs of art.

    1. dr john

      Emin has a good day? Come on, the best she does is get out of bed, and calls it art. I've had thousands of similar artistic moments...

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