How old is symbolic thinking?

Ochre-painted bones were unearthed in one of the caves in Israel. The find led scientists to believe that symbolic thinking has actually occurred much earlier than it is commonly considered.

Symbolic thinking is a process of imagining something of a meaning. Its role in human evolution is tremendous. It is thanks to this process that humans are able to use complex verbal/written language and mathematics.
The new research has indicated that red ochre often used for burials (one hundred thousand years ago) represents a fine example of much earlier colored associations.

Khavcekh cave is a fascinating place with numerous human skeletons from nearly 100,000 years ago. Recently, archaeologists discovered tiny fragments of red ochre next to human remains. “We found 71 pieces of ochre. The find enabled us to establish a direct correlation with the actual burial ritual,” stated Erella Hovers from the European University in Jerusalem.

The find allows archaeologists to date the actual birth of symbolic thinking to at least 100,000 years. This is twice as less than the researchers assumed. There appears a hole from the times of the first examples of symbolic thinking. Later examples emerge only 13,000 years ago.  


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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov