The Latymer School History Magazine - page 39

Gua Tewet, the tree of life,
Borneo, Indonesia
handle on one end and a
hollow carved at the other
whilst pieces of animal fat
were placed in the hollow
and lit with an ember. The
environment of caves was
adjusted to simply prevent
remnants from erosion,
corrosion and decay which
allowed them to last for tens
of thousands of years.
Therefore, this allows the
cave to preserve the art
better.
Alongside the paintings,
other artefacts have been
discovered in caves.
Jewellery and engraved
small items were made from
bone or ivory. Some dwellers
believed that these were to
be buried with the dead,
suggesting some kind of
religious belief in an afterlife.
Today, cave paintings have
become extremely popular
with the younger generation
as the world’s famous cave
paintings at Lascaux in
France and Altamira in Spain
were originally founded by
children. The paintings in
Lascaux are 31,000 years old
as shown by carbon dating; it
is primarily of large animals
that were once native to the
region. Lascaux is a complex
cave with several areas; Halls
of the Bulls, Passage Gallery,
the Shaft of the Dead man,
the Chamber of Engravings,
the Painted Gallery, and the
Chamber of Felines. The
cave contains nearly 2,000
figures which are grouped
under human figures,
animals or abstract signs.
Also represented are cattle,
bison, felines, a bird, a bear,
a rhinoceros and a human.
However the most famous
painting in the cave of
Lascaux is the four huge,
black bulls or aurochs in the
Halls of the Bulls. One of the
bulls is 5.2 metres long – the
largest animal discovered so
far in cave art.
Despite the cave being
31,000 years old, there are
others which are more than
twice the age of it. For
example, the Aboriginal
paintings in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia
are over 50,000 years old
and the paintings in Chauvet
in the French Ardèche are
twice as old. Although some
may not be as old as those
found in Australia, others are
more unique and
controversial to the true
meaning of Cave art. There
are paintings in Ne Ja in
Spain of rock formations,
which can be played like a
Xylophone by Prehistoric
people. The 14, 000 year old
paintings in France’s
Pergouset are positioned in
such a way that you have to
crawl through 150 metres of
passageway in order to
reach it.
Since cave art often
depicted a subject near to
hunters, most researchers
have assumed that the
people behind this
mysterious artwork must
have been male. Despite
this, new researchers have
suggested that it is
incorrect: when scientists
looked closely at a
sample of hand stencils, a
common motif in cave art,
they concluded that
about three-quarters were
actually drawn by women.
They looked specifically at
the lengths of fingers in
drawings from eight caves
in France and Spain.
Biologists established that
women tend to have ring
and index fingers of the
same length, whereas men’s
ring fingers tend to be
longer than their index
fingers. Therefore, from the
32 hand prints he found in
the cave, 75% of the hands
belonged to women.
Women cave artists show
how this massive problem
between the sexes was even
occurring during the
prehistoric times. It also
displays how women artists
were hidden behind the
falsity of cave paintings and
by the ‘suspected ‘result that
men were the true painters.
Unfortunately, it also
illustrates how feminist
problems have carried on
happening from many years
back. There are still many
areas in art where women do
not succeed due to a social
view or they just neglected
because in favour of male
artists. This is present in one
of the biggest art topics
known as Pop Art. However,
at least the positive thing is
that cavewomen’s’ work are
still present and on display
today.
So from this we have learned
that art was the main source
or even the start of art in the
history of mankind.
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