Archaeologists Discover Earliest-Recorded “Like” Symbols in Lascaux

cave art
Previously undiscovered symbols in the Lascaux network of caves are definitive evidence that the human “like” dates back to prehistoric times. (edit Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic, original photo via Getty Images)

They’re calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime” discovery: Archaeologists conducting periodic cleaning and conservation of the famous Lascaux prehistoric rock paintings near the village of Montignac in Southern France stumbled upon what they say is the earliest evidence of a “like” in a previously unexplored section of the cave.

Overshadowed for decades due to its placement near a particularly gruesome depiction of an epic battle with a bison, the wall of five rudimentary thumbs-up gestures (and two thumbs down) puts the “like” symbol at the heart of the Upper Paleolithic period, predating the advent of social media by approximately 17,000 years.

In an exclusive interview with Hyperallergic, lead archaeologist Babar Pepperdieux said the research team was about to “take a petit pause” for lunch when one of his colleagues exclaimed: “Sacre bleu, a ‘like’!”

“This unprecedented finding reveals that the act of narrowing the vast and complex range of human emotions to two elementary thumb signals, flattening any possible depth or context in the name of ‘engagement,’ is much older than previously believed,” Pepperdieux said.

Much like modern humans, the team hypothesizes that our prehistoric forebears painted the symbols to virtue-signal their support for social causes they didn’t really care about or to passive-aggressively acknowledge their ex’s new girlfriend.

Paintings and engravings found on the walls and ceilings of caves are commonly referred to as “parietal” art, though it is unclear what that word means. Pepperdieux shared an explanation of the radiocarbon dating method used to determine the age of the iron oxide renderings, which Hyperallergic has opted to leave out in the interest of keeping readers awake.

The research team will now focus their efforts on investigating whether our ancestors also “double-tapped” on the cave walls to express their preferences.

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