Tiny Artists

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Young children made major contributions to the art world tens of thousands of years ago, according to a new study.

Researchers from Britain’s Cambridge University and Spain’s University of Cantabria discovered that children – and toddlers – were responsible for a quarter of hand stencils painted in Spanish caves about 20,000 years ago, Artnet News reported.

In their paper, they analyzed 180 hand stencils painted in various Spanish caves and used 3D models of hand paintings at different sites, such as El Castillo and Maltravieso.

The team explained that the artwork would be made by blowing pigments through a hollow reed or bone onto hands placed against the cave wall. But during their analysis, they noticed that up to 25 percent of the hand marks were not from adults or teenagers.

They suggested that the stencils belonged to children between the ages of two and 12. They added that the pigment could have been blown by their parents or other adults helping them.

“Many more children’s hands came out than we expected,” lead author Verónica Fernández-Navarrogical told the Telegraph.

Fernández-Navarrogical added that the findings also show that rock painting was more of a family-oriented group activity than a solitary male pursuit.

She and her colleagues are now planning to study whether some of the gestures made in some hand markings carry any meaning.

“We want to find out if it is a code that they knew how to interpret, in the same way that we today interpret a ‘stop’ sign,” she said.

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