Posted in communication and networking, education, museum, Optics

Neolithic optical art

An exhibition is being shown at the Vatican until the end of October featuring art by the Cucuteni-Trypillia civilization, believed to have existed in Europe (or at least been at their most populous and artifact-productive) about 7000 years ago. Not much is known about the group, but one defining feature of the culture is that every 60 – 80 years they would purposfully burn down entire an city, filled with thousands of homes, and move to a new location.

Not only was this group arguably the first large organized civilization in all of Europe, but the art seen on their pottery and on old walls and ceilings has been fascinating to try and understand. The art uses repeating lines, circles, and spirals. All of  the designs have geometric elements, and are very similar in style to today’s optical illusion art. Many modern cultures use geometrical shapes in their artwork, but this is one of the earliest archaeological records of its use, and particularly by an organized civilization.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.