Paleolithic Cave Art Essays

Essay on Cave Paintings

1253 Words6 Pages

The Cave of Lascaux and Cave Art
     Cave paintings might possibly be the oldest known form of communication that exists today. Cave paintings date back to a period of time called the Paleolithic Age. The Paleolithic Age took place from 40,000 to 10,000 B.C. Prehistoric Age is divided into three parts: Paleolithic being the earliest, Mesolithic being the middle at 10,000 B.C. and Neolithic Age being the latest at 8,000 B.C. During the Paleolithic Age it is believed that the cave paintings at Lascaux, France were created.
     Lascaux, is located in the south central, western corner of France. In 1940 this cave was believed to be found by a group of four boys from Montignac, France and a…show more content…

This particular dating method uses radiocarbon dating, however typing of Lascauxs’ pigments suggests the material used in this cave was iron or mangamese and metal oxides which are very hard to date using either of the above methods. According to Nature Magazine “The chronology of European prehistoric cave paintings has been loosely based on the style of fauna depicted or on dated remains left behind by cave occupants, but has become more precise with radiocarbon dating on the charcoal pigments”. (Valladas, et al 479) This suggests that the men completing these works left things behind which the archaeologists are able to date.
     Cave paintings of this time were known to be created using a mixture of red and yellow ochre, haematite, manganese oxide and charcoal. The colors these men used were red, brown, blue, purple, yellow and black. Animal fat and plant sap were used, and worked quite well, in producing a binding and preservation agent for these cave works. In these cave lighting was an issue because the cave were often extremely dark and one would have not had ample light to see. It is suggested in the internet source Art: A new History, by Paul Johnson that “both lamps and torch light” were used. (Johnson) Torch lights and lamps were also both effective in burning mass amounts of animal fat which was then used as a binding agent for the paintings.
Typically most cave

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Cave Paintings Essay

Creating art is one of the single defining factors that set humans apart from animal species. Through art, humans are able to express their innermost ideas and feelings, without having the difficulty of trying to find the correct words to accurately describe their thought processes. Works of art can help us to understand the people who have come before us. This is evidenced by the knowledge humans have discovered of prehistoric men and their symbolic cave paintings. The expression, style, and meaning vary and archaeologists put in much effort to uncover these works.
The first evidence of cave art appeared in Western Europe (Berenguer 67). Early cave paintings were characteristic of Western art. They were supported by an acute vision, deep expressiveness, enormous personality, and detailed execution (Berenguer 68). Art first appeared in sculpture-form, and then moved to engravings on cave walls. Eventually, this led to experimentation with colors, ultimately evolving to paintings (Berenguer 69).
In addition to adorning cave walls, prehistoric men also painted the surfaces of rocks and the floors of caves. How the paintings were made (the tools that were used, what minerals were used in making the pigments) does not necessarily reveal much important information regarding their meaning. More so, the location of the paintings discloses crucial material for understanding (Curtis 142). Originally, paintings were congregated at the entrance of the caves, but eventually were moved farther inside. This reveals that these paintings were not necessarily showpieces, but more deep and personal expressions. Paintings toward the front of the caves often indicated and pointed towards an interior sanctuary, serving as a beckoning call (Berenguer 72).
Cave art is something to be admired and praised; it is seen to be a direct expression of the human spirit. It is often found to be extremely animalistic. The animals most commonly depicted are horses, deer, reindeer, bison, ipex, aurochs, woolly rhinoceroses, and mammoths. Sometimes lions and bears are also created, but rarely fish or birds. Humans were also commonly represented (Berenguer 73). Prehistoric men also created abstract designs that have proven hard to identify. They are referred to as signs and a special nomenclature has been developed to better understand their meaning. Tectiforms are generally quadrangular shapes, with crossing vertical lines inside forming a trellis or mesh design. Tectiforms often appear near naturalistic figures of animals. Scutiforms have been thought to represent the female vulva. They are formed by red patches, often in the form of a comma or a key. Other types of signs are penniforms, ramiforms, and claviforms. The exact meanings of most of these signs remain unknown (Berenguer 82).
The French scholar Leroi-Gourhan formed a theory regarding the animalistic and abstract art representations. He believed all depictions revolved around the law of sex, noting that the...

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