David Whitley is an archeologist specializing far western North American rock art. In this TEDx Talk from the end of 2013, he talks about human creativity and mental health are their deep interconnection.
Published on Dec 27, 2013
Archeologist David Whitley suggests that the strengths and weaknesses of humans are deeply intertwined and inter-dependent. He shares his journey, taking us back 40,000 years, to discover the origin of human artistic genius.
David decided to become an archaeologist when he was three years old, and determined that he would study cave paintings (rock art) when he was 12. No one told him, at the time, that rock art was an ignored topic in American archaeology. Not deterred, David continued his studies and completed his doctorate at UCLA. He primarily writes about prehistoric art and religion, which he finds harder to study, and consequently much more interesting, than the standard archaeological topics of tools, technology, and diet. His most recent book is Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief David’s focus lies in the rock art of far western North America. His understanding of this art primarily derives from Native American ethnography–anthropological accounts of tribal religions and practices. He uses this understanding as a springboard for examining the ultimate origin of art and religion.
David lives near Tehachapi, California, in a forest of blue oak trees. When he’s not working or writing, he rides his faithful old ranch horse, Twelve, through the mountains. “It’s the best way to think,” says David.