Paleolithic Art Essay

1020 words - 4 pages

Paleolithic Art

Paleolithic art, dating back to the late Paleolithic period 40,000-10,000 B.C. (the Stone Age), is one of the most beautiful, natural periods of cave art and clay sculptures. Created by Nomadic hunters and gatherers with ivory, wood, and bone, these figures were thought to be symbolic and have some magical or ritual relevance. Figures and drawings have been found in all parts of the world dating back to the Cro-Magnon man as late as 60,000 years ago.

There are two different periods of overlapping periods. The first, dating between 14,000-13,500 B.C., is the Aurignacio-Perigordian. This period included the contents of the Lauscaux cave paintings, the many sculptures at Laussel, and the voluptuous feminine figures called Venuses (Columbia Press, 1). The second, named the Solutres-Magdalenian period, dating back to 14,000-9,500 B.C., includes murals of Rouffignac and Niaux, and the ceiling decors in Spain (Columbia Press, 1).

Paleolithic art falls into two distinct categories: portable pieces and cave art. Portable art was carved from bone, stone, or modeled from clay. Most has been found in Europe, Africa, and Siberia (Encarta, 1). The cave art comprised mostly of drawings and paintings recovered in mostly Spain and France (Versaware, 1). A possible third art category is mentionable also. Rock art is comprised of carvings and drawings on rock surfaces, but little of this art has been discovered (Encarta, 1). This form of art has founded many of today’s drawings, languages, and cultures.

The first discovery was in the 1860’s by French Paleontologist, Eduard Lartet. The decorations were estimated back to the Stone Age because of the use of Ice Age animal bones. Researchers soon were digging everywhere in search of objects, ignoring cave drawings (Encarta, 1). In the 1880’s, a landowner discovered a cave in Spain filled with art and structural objects. Hiding it at first, researchers revealed it to the world that helped people learn to accept cave art for what it really was, an art. Many sites were uncovered shortly after, dating back to over 32,000 years (Versaware, 1).
Since 1981, archeologists have also found art outside of the caves such as engravings of humans, horses, and cattle, which were about 20,000 years old. Paleolithic findings, if surviving erosion, are now becoming more common throughout the world (Columbia, 1).

Paleolithic art is often classified in two different categories: figurative and non-figurative (Encarta, 2). The figurative side of art deals with depicting animals and humans. It is found more commonly than non-figurative. Cave art, such as paintings, engravings, and objects that consist of bison, fish, deer, and even some imaginary animals. Many of the numerous images are drawn incompletely. Some are layered on top of one another. Human drawings are less commonly found in this type of category.

The second, non-figurative art, deals with depicted symbols and signs. They are more common...

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