The First Appearance of Symmetry in the Human Lineage: Where Perception Meets Art
DOAJ:Physics and Astronomy
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AbstractAlthough symmetry may be important for understanding the selection of form in art over the historical period, this preference may have originally stemmed from certain basic perceptual mechanism that initially arose during prehistory. The first signs of an awareness to symmetry can be found in the archaeological record with the arrival of Acheulean handaxes, especially those dating from 500,000 years ago onwards, which are typified by a prodigious bilateral symmetry. As handaxes represent the earliest material record of an interest in symmetry by the human lineage, they provide a privileged means of understanding why this kind of form came to be valued by later human groups, particularly in relation to “art”. Although still controversial, the preference for symmetry at such an early date has been linked to various aspects of perception relating to enduring evolutionary factors. In this regard, it will be demonstrated how the preference for symmetrical Acheulean tools arose out of long standing perceptual correlates relating to ecological factors that predated the arrival of hominins.