Recently, it has been debated whether the art was practiced by hominids predating modern humans; Check out 5 works that could be the oldest in the world!

Since ancient times, humanity has believed that what differentiates our existence from that of other animals is not only our higher rational capacity, but also our potential to create art. However, this view of art may fall — and what's more: art may even be older than us.
This is because recent evidence in archaeological circles raises the debate that other hominids, such as Neanderthals, would have produced their own forms of art.
However, many of them were lost over time, making it impossible to estimate exactly when the first ones appeared. At the same time, without knowing the purpose of the 'author' it is impossible to determine whether or not it is an artistic work.
Still, there are archaeological finds that could be considered art, if more is revealed about how they occurred, the context and intention behind them. Check out what could be the 5 oldest works of art ever found around the world:

1. Handprints

Around a hot spring in Tibet, a set of fossil prints of children's hands was discovered in 2021, which may date back to approximately 200,000 years ago. According to a study published in the journal Science Bulletin, these may be some of the oldest arts ever found in the world.

The hand "footprints" were made in a travertine stone, located close to the spring, which becomes soft when wet, and hard when dry. However, it is still debated whether engravings can actually constitute art, or whether they were made occasionally and unintentionally, and even whether they are as old as claimed.

2. Wooden Structure

As already mentioned, what would motivate the small number of works of art prior to Homo Sapiens is that they may have simply been lost over time. This is because, before cave paintings were faithful representations of animals, or even before the dominance of metal tools occurred, Neanderthals and other hominids used mainly to use wood when making objects, a material that easily decomposes over time. .

However, in September 2023, archaeologists found the remains of a wooden structure in Zambia dating back to 476,000 years ago. The material, in this case, was preserved in clay, and reveals a skillful use of wood by archaic hominids, according to Live Science.

3. Engraved shell

On the island of Java, in Indonesia, in 2014, an ancient shell was discovered that had an intriguing detail: an engraved zigzag.

According to Derek Hodgson, an archaeologist and specialist in prehistoric rock art who worked at the University of York, in England, the engraving would have been made by Homo erectus, around 540,000 years ago.

However, the exact intention behind the carved pattern is not known. Furthermore, archaeologists note that similar engravings have been found even in more recent sites and from several different places.

4. Small openings

Small openings in rocks have been found on different continents, produced by various cultures. It is still debated among the archaeological community whether these domes can represent pits, wells or even cups, and even whether, in fact, they represent something and whether or not they can be considered art.

However, if new studies show that they are, in fact, artistic objects, the age of these domes may surprise. This is because, according to an article published in 2008 in Rock Art Research, by Robert G. Bednarik — from Hebei Normal University, located in Shijiazhuang, China —, the oldest of them may be up to 1.7 million years old.

5. Stone spheres

Although the age of the small openings is impressive, they would not be the only oldest works of art ever produced. This is because soft rock spheroids have already been found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.
The size draws attention: it is close to a baseball and dates back 1.4 million years. However, once again, it is not known exactly what its purpose would be.
Some archaeologists, skeptical that they are artistic objects, believe that they served as tools, possibly hammers for rock chipping work.

However, more recent studies suggest that the hominids who produced them tried to impose "symmetry" on the balls - in the same way as they did with some hand axes, which may suggest that it was art. The debate, however, remains.