This month’s featured book that the faculty of the Center for Cognitive Archaeology want to highlight is First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone by Tony Berlant and UCCS Distinguished Professor Thomas Wynn.
First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone, by Tony Berlant and Thomas Wynn, is the catalogue of the first museum exhibition to present ancient handaxes and figure stones as works of art. Traditionally understood as the longest-used tool in human history, with examples dating back more than 2 million years, some handaxes are equally fascinating for their non-utilitarian, aesthetic qualities. First Sculpture presents these objects as evidence of the earliest forms of artistic intention, highlighting the aesthetic qualities of each stone and providing crucial historical and scientific information to give the viewer a deeper understanding of human history, as well as an enriched appreciation for humankind’s early ability to sculpt beautiful objects.
The exhibition’s second focus, that of figure stones, suggests early human ability to recognize beauty and meaning in found objects. These naturally occurring stones possess evident shapes and patterns, including geometric forms, animals, and especially faces. Prehistoric people recognized these shapes and augmented their mimetic qualities through additional carving. First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone is the product of a unique collaboration between Los Angeles-based artist Tony Berlant and anthropologist Dr. Thomas Wynn, Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. The catalogue includes contributions by John Gowlett, Evan M. Maurer, Richard Deacon, Jared Diamond, Naama Goren-Inbar and V. S. Ramachandran. ©2018 Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX.