Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ancient Art, Music Flowered as Communities, Not Brains, Grew

An explosion of art, music, jewelry and hunting technology appeared 45,000 years ago because of increased population density, rather than the evolution of the human brain, a study said.

Researchers used genetic estimates of ancient population sizes, archaeological artifacts and computer simulations of social learning. They found complex skills involving abstract thinking would be passed down through generations and across groups only when populations reach a critical level, according to the study in tomorrow’s edition of the journal Science.

Increased interaction between groups, the sharing of ideas and the exchange of raw materials that led to the flowering of human culture may explain why concentrated centers of industry, such as California’s Silicon Valley, produce technological innovations, said Mark Thomas, 44, a senior author of the study and a senior lecturer at University College London in England.

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