Art and perception in Palaeolithic societies: Analyzing human cognition through the social learning of artistic skills

Principal researcher: Olivia Rivero

The graphic productions of the European Upper Palaeolithic are among the oldest examples of creativity and cognitive complexity of anatomically modern humans (AMH). They are therefore invaluable cultural assets that reflect human evolution over time. ArtMindHuman aims to investigate how AMHs created and perceived art, studying the skills required in gestural processes, as well as the cognitive skills linked to the production and perception of Palaeolithic representations. This study will include the analysis of the cultural and symbolic processes involved in the preservation of a specific know-how and the associated iconographic models, conceived as a way of transferring knowledge across time and space between individuals and from one generation to the next.

The ArtMindHuman project will explore the connection between three major factors linked to graphic production: cognition, cultural traditions (learning) and social identity. Therefore, an innovative and interdisciplinary approach is proposed, based on the technical analysis of art and the process of its creation, as well as on the cognitive neuroscience of Palaeolithic art.

To meet these objectives, an experimental protocol of engraving with lithic tools, the subsequent analysis of gesture and perception during artistic creation, and the analysis of operative chains in parietal and movable art will be developed.