Thursday, December 08, 2011

FOLLOW UP ON HOW THE RESEARCHERS FOUND OUT THE AGES OF THE CHILDREN WHO PAINTED IN CAVES

The article about children painting intrigued me but it did not say how the researchers knew how old the children were who painted in the caves. So I emailed Dr. Leslie van Gelder of Walden U, the head researcher, and asked her how they did it. I was delighted with her reply:

"The most in depth answer to your question is best found in an article we published in Antiquity in 2006. (Here's the link to the reference if you want to get the article http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/080/ant0800937.htm). That has the long version of the methodology that we used to study childrens and adults hands.

The short version is that in the cave we had been collecting data on lines that had been drawn with three fingers held together because no matter what the three fingers were the same three fingers, whether left hand or right. We then replicated the wall surface by using clay and asked people of many ages to draw a similar marking with their hands and then we measured the results. We asked people who worked in schools in a number of different countries to work with children in their classes to collect data for us as well as we were especially interested in children because we knew many of the measures in the cave were small.

What we found was that there was a definite clear point of measure where children under 5 seemed to have a measure of 30mm or smaller for their 3 fingered width. Given that we had measures of 22, 28, and 31mm in the cave, that was enormously helpful.

We've also looked at the heights of their flutings from the floor. That, in some areas, gives us a sense of their height, too. "

Many thanks to Dr. van Gelder!

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