Cave Paintings In Lascaux
The drawings, stencil art and paintings illustrating the walls and ceilings of prehistoric caves are known as cave paintings or parietal art. This form of art commenced during the Aurignacian period, and reached its pinnacle during the late Magdalenian culture. Archeologists have discovered approximately 350 caves displaying this art form in France and Spain. Some of the other regions where this rock art has been located include Africa, Argentina, India, China and Australia.
One of the most popular caves representing art of the pre-historic times is Lascaux situated in south western France. This set of seven chambers adorned with over 2000 painted images was discovered in 1940. These paintings encompassing 2000 figures are presumably about 16,000 years old. In 1979, Lascaux was incorporated in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The depictions in these caves can be bifurcated into three groups; animals, human figures and abstract signs. Strangely, there are no illustrations of landscapes or vegetation of those times. Over the years many paintings have been lost due to degradation. More than 900 paintings portray animals which comprise of equines, stags, cattle and bison in the descending order of their representation. Projections of felines, bird, bear, rhinoceros and human have also been deciphered. The most significant feature is the Hall of the Bulls, which apart from bulls also depicts horses and male aurochs. Surprisingly, the reindeer despite being the main source of food in the pre-historic times finds no place in these paintings. The Crossed Bison, a painting located in the chamber addressed as the Nave, exemplifies the outstanding skills of the Paleolithic artists.
Latest research conducted by Dr Michael Rappenglueck of the University of Munich indicates the co-relation between the representations in the caves to stars in some constellations. However, another theory has also been proposed by David Lewis-Williams. As per his interpretation, this art has a spiritual significance. His theory prophesies that these paintings are visions of a human mind in trance and have no relationship to the geographical site. Taking this viewpoint forward, Nigel Spivey, an archeologist with the University of Cambridge states that the dot patterns displayed in the pictures are analogous to delusions caused by sensory dispossessions.
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