Cave Paintings

Topics: Cave painting, Upper Paleolithic, Stone Age Pages: 3 (954 words) Published: October 30, 2010
 Chauvet Cave Horses

The expression of “cave painting” usually refers to drawing, stencil art and painting on the walls and ceilings of prehistoric caves of the Stone Age. Evidence indicates it began during the Aurignacian period (around 30,000 BC) but reached a highpoint during the late Magdalenian period. The most spectacular examples of this rock art have been discovered in France and Spain, where archeologists have found some 350 caves containing Paleolithic artworks, but other decorated caves have been found in many parts of the world. Stone Age artists created a variety of figurative and abstract images. The naturalistic picture mostly depicted hunting scenes, or arrangements of animals - usually bison, horses, reindeer, cattle, aurochs and mammoths, although a wide variety of other creatures were depicted, such as: lions, musk ox, ass, saiga, chamois, wolf , fox, hare, otter, hyena, seals, fish, reptiles, birds and other creatures also appear. Abstract imagery was also common. Paleolithic murals frequently contain a variety of dots, lines, signs and symbols (ideomorphs), together with a mixture of zoomorphs, anthromorphs and polymorphs

The most common themes in cave paintings are large wild animals and tracings of human hands as well as abstract patterns called finger flutings. Drawing of humans were rare and usually schematic rather than the more naturalistic animal subjects. One explanation for this is that that realistically painting the human form was forbidden by a powerful taboo. What rock art means and why the ancients practiced it has been a bane of contention amongst scholars since the phenomena started to be studies. Some have argued that such images are records of hunts that served not only to inventory the amount of animals killed as future references for animal migrating patterns. Henri Breuil interpreted the paintings as being hunting magic, meant to increase the number of animals. As...
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