The Stone Age Institute Presents
Dr. Thomas Wynn


"The Lower Palaeolithic Roots of Human Aesthetic Experience"

Sunday, March 20, 2016 2 - 3:30 pm
Monroe County Public Library Auditorium
303 E. Kirkwood Ave.
Bloomington, Indiana

Thomas Wynn

Dr. Thomas Wynn is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He earned his AB in Sociology/Anthropology at Occidental College, and his MA and PhD in Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He focused on the archaeology of the Lower Palaeolithic, early Stone Age, and did field work in Europe and Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

He has published over 100 articles and book chapters about cognitive evolution in Palaeolithic studies. His books include The Evolution of Spatial Competence (1989), The Rise of Homo sapiens: The evolution of modern thinking (with F. Coolidge 2009), and How to think like a Neandertal (with F. Coolidge 2012).


Art historians and archaeologists alike often begin their discussions of the origins of art with depictive imagery from the European Upper Palaeolithic. The roots of human aesthetic experience were in fact much, much deeper. The nascent discipline of neuroaesthetics provides several useful insights that can be applied to the archaeological record, enabling the identification of pre-modern varieties of aesthetic experience. In particular, our analysis points to a long period in which appraisal of aesthetic value was clearly in place, but symbolic meaning was not.

This is a free public event presented in partnership with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.