Looks like a kid was messing about with spray paint just this morning, doesn’t it. When you want to make art, a hand print is about the first impulse. Simple, totally yours, a fun way to tell other folks that “I was here”.
Well, this hand print clocks in at 27,000 years old. Just about the earliest ever. It’s is from the Pech Merle cave in France which is sports seven chambers filled with brilliant murals of spotted horses, galloping reindeer, woolly mammoths, people and, of course, hand prints.
I imagine some rainy evening after the deer haunch was gnawed until everyone was full and the fire crackling with soporific warmth and good feeling. The hunters nod off, the women plan how to use the fresh hide, the young folks get bored. One of them scoops up some red ochre and dabs it round a hand held against the pale rock wall. Then dabs half circle of spots around it just to jazz it up a bit.
When the hand is whipped away, the print shows up brightly in the flickering light, a vivid calling card that remains to this day. Someone back there is waving hello to us, a hand held up in an exuberant high five.
So let’s high five back to a distant ancestor whose DNA we very likely carry in our genes. DNA may link our bodies. The hand print takes us directly back to that ancient world of cave dwelling. Yeah, the hand prints says, despite the woolly mammoths, they were just like us.