The photo isn’t merely beautiful, it’s about beauty. It comes from a talk by Denis Dutton at TED called A Darwinian theory of beauty. It’s chosen for the depth of field which puts the focus firmly on the handaxe and makes the presenter blur slightly in the background. The completely out-of-focus distant background is colourful, but serves to highlight the handaxe. It’s an imaginative way of having human interest in the shot without the human figure drawing attention away from the subject. Often putting a human in shot makes the photo about the person and not the artefact.
Alun Salt is an ancient historian / archaeologist based in the University of Leicester, UK. His PhD thesis was an archaeoastronomical analysis of Greek temple alignments in Sicily. He also has an MPhil in World Archaeology. His research interests include ancient technology, cosmology and colonisation processes. He is currently dividing his time between a few part-time jobs in the university and at the Annals of Botany. View all posts by Alun Salt