The Latymer School History Magazine - page 38

Lascaux Caves,
Southwest France
During the Upper
Palaeolithic period, from
30,000 BC to 10,000 BC, or
otherwise known as the Old
Stone Age, prehistoric man
created engraved or painted
works on open air rocks or
on floors, walls and ceilings
of caves. These were called
cave paintings. They
portrayed human hands and
large variety of animals in
different activities, including
various species such as
bison, deer, horses,
mammoths and the woolly
rhinoceros , which are now
extinct, and a few which were
extinct even at the time when
they were painted. The
paintings also displayed
tribal healers feeding people
plants to cure illnesses and
religious rituals. The caves
itself were been regarded as
temples in prehistoric times.
All these forms of art were
regarded as 'Parietal Art',
meaning art which is
denoting the wall of the
body, of a body cavity or
hollow structure.
Prehistoric man was also
known as Troglodyte, which
literally means “someone
who lives in a hole.” They
were regarded as the
“theoretically un-gifted” man
ever living on the earth. This
was due to their disastrous
lifestyles, portrayed by their
homes being caves or by
their over exaggerated
surprise when they laid eyes
upon something new.
However, Cave painters or
Cavemen, were not as un-
gifted as they sound. The
wonder of their arts is the
first insight to their unique
skills. Cave paintings
demonstrated the early
humans’ capacity to give
meaning to their
surroundings and
communicate with others.
You could call it the stone
and painted version of a
normal SMS text message
nowadays. However,
archaeologists and top
experts have not been able
to reach conclusions as to
why cave paintings were
produced by cavemen. One
of the earliest explanations
for cave art was the “arts for
art’s sake” idea, which was
established when images of
the paintings were first
surfaced in the 19
th
century.
As the name implies, the art
was produced simply
because our ancestors felt
bored, needed something to
do and they found the
pictures pretty. There was no
real goal behind it; it was the
prehistoric version of a
doodle.
Astonishingly, cave dwellers
used natural resources and
their bare hands to produce
such masterpieces. Primary
pigments such as iron oxides
were used for red,
manganese for black and
ochre created a variety of
yellow or orange shades.
They applied the paint onto
the walls by blowing through
a tube or directly spitting
from the mouth, which was a
practice followed by the
Aboriginal people of
Australia. They also used
brushes made from animal
hair or plant material, along
with their fingers, rocks and
other tools. Sometimes the
images were engraved in
addition to being painted. As
many of the paintings were
made deep within the cave,
the aid of lamps and torches
were necessary. The lamps
were pieces of stone with a
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