Prehistoric rock art was often the work of children and babies

Most of the drawings of the children’s hands seemed to correspond to individuals between the ages of 3 and 10.

But there were also outlines of hands of toddlers and even babies, who couldn’t blow hard enough on their own and would have had to be helped by parents or other caregivers.

“This activity could have served as an element of group cohesion,” said Fernández-Navarro.

The researchers noted that most of the hands they examined on the walls of five caves spread across the Spanish regions of Cantabria, Aragon and Extremadura were placed in prominent and easily visible positions.

But the mystery of their meaning remains.

Aiming for a “much deeper knowledge” of the prehistoric era

Ms Fernández-Navarro told Spanish newspaper ABC that she was currently working with French colleagues on rock art in France in a project called Mind2Wall, to examine whether hands could be a form of non-verbal language.

She said: “In some caves patterns have been found, some hands have missing or bent fingers, and positions repeat in a specific way. We want to know if it is a code that they were able to interpret, in the same way that we interpret a “stop” sign today.

Examining the subtle variations in patterns between different territories and caves can help scientists unravel the mystery.

Diego Garate, from the International Institute for Prehistoric Research of Cantabria – one of the authors of the study – said: “Our main objective is to acquire a much deeper knowledge, not of the art itself. that these societies produced, but of the protagonists, of the men and women who created these works in the Paleolithic.

The researchers point out that modern conceptions of childhood and of the social status and roles of minors are likely to be vastly different from those of Paleolithic human societies.

However, they added, the existence of childhood as a distinct phase of life is still clear.

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