Monday, February 3, 2020

Art and Archaeology of Stone Age Europe

I am teaching a course this month at our local Osher Lifelong Learning Institute with 100 students who are aged 50 and better!

The topic was inspired by a National Geographic trip to the Paleolithic painted caves of France and Spain two years ago.

Lascaux painting.jpg

Lascaux: aurochs (oxen), horses, and deer

The class explores European cave art, especially the art from painted caves in southwestern France and northern Spain. What are the limits of the evidence, and what can we learn from cave paintings? Do the paintings represent the spiritual world instead of daily life? What is the relationship between painted animals, shamanism, and subsistence? Did women create some of the paintings? Which caves were also used as meeting places and trade centers? Other topics will include portable art, the use of fire for lighting, heating, and cooking, and how people moved across the landscapes of early Europe and the Americas.

Here is a Nat Geo video with a great introduction to the painted caves of France. 

An Australian named Don Hitchcock has created an amazing website about Paleolithic sites all over Europe, with quite a lot of other information! This was important for me since we were not allowed to take photographs during most of our trip (the caves that are still open needed to have their paintings protected from bright lights and the CO2 of thousands of visitors).

Here are two of my favorite books on the subject:

Paul Bahn, The First Artists: In Search of the World's Oldest Art (2017)

Paul Bahn, Cave Art: A Guide to the Decorated Ice Age Caves of Europe (2007).

I will post more images and websites in the next three weeks.

No comments: