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The First Appearance of Symmetry in the Human Lineage: Where Perception Meets Art

Department of Archaeology, University of York, King’s Manor, York, YO1 7EP, UK
Symmetry 2011, 3(1), 37-53;
Received: 17 January 2011 / Revised: 23 February 2011 / Accepted: 23 February 2011 / Published: 1 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry Processing in Perception and Art)
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Although 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: visual brain; symmetrical tools; evolution; neuropsychology; proto-art visual brain; symmetrical tools; evolution; neuropsychology; proto-art

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Hodgson, D. The First Appearance of Symmetry in the Human Lineage: Where Perception Meets Art. Symmetry 2011, 3, 37-53.

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