Interesting article in Salon: The Stoned Age: Were cavemen on drugs?
This thesis—that humanity’s earliest artists were not just reeling due to mind-altering activities, but deliberately sought those elevated states and gave greater meaning to those common visions—is the contention of a new paper by an international research team.
Their thesis intriguingly explores the “biologically embodied mind,” which they contend gave rise to similarities in Paleolithic art across the continents dating back 40,000 years, and can also be seen in the body painting patterns dating back even further, according to recent archelogical discoveries.
At its core, this theory challenges the long-held notion that the earliest art and artists were merely trying to draw the external world. Instead, it sees cave art as a deliberate mix of rituals inducing altered states for participants, coupled with brain chemistry that elicits certain visual patterns for humanity’s early chroniclers.
So perhaps we add cavemen painters to jazz musicians and other creative artists who have found inspiration in altered states of consciousness?