Hand Prints, the symbol for all Humanity

If there is a single image that could stand for all of humanity it is the negative handprint. I’ve seen the negative handprint reproduced on 6 continents and across all ages of human creativity. From the Paleolithic to modern times the images persists in our visual vocabulary. They may well be the very first artistic expression. To me, they are the original ‘selfie’ the very first way that people recorded their passage. That urge to leave a visual mark that says “I was here” is uniquely human.

Ten Negative Hand Prints in Fish Canyon, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

One thing that I particularly enjoy about the hand prints is their personal nature. Each person’s print is different. That leaves me feeling connected to the individual who made the print in an intimate way. That sense of connection is one of the reasons I started the Ancient Art Archive. I wanted to explore ancient art and help preserve it.

For a limited time, join the Ancient Art Archive at the $100 or above level and receive a signed copy of this handprint image from Fish Canyon, Utah.

-Stephen Alvarez

About the author

Stephen Alvarez is a photographer and frequent commentator on the role technology and photography play in our interconnected world. He is founder and director of the Ancient Art Archive (https://ancientartarchive.org).