Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Stone Age" Humans Painted Their Caves

Bovine feet on 3x3 checkerboards, Lascaux, c. 17000 BCE.
Har!  Well, we know they did!  What is a little absurd in the tone of this article is the concept of the "Stone Age" itself -- as if people were humped over lumps with arms dragging on the ground, with no language, no minds, and no conception of immortality, and nothing occurred at all in human herstory until the invention of metallurgy -- but that happened as early as 9,000 years ago so I have a problem with calling anything that happened after that the "Stone Age." The "Chalcolithic" period, which is a made-up term to describe the interim period between the "Stone Age" and the "Bronze Age" is entirely unsatisfactory, as most people don't know what the hell it means [it's a combination of Greek chalcos (copper) and lithos (stone)] !  It certainly took a long time (according to current chronology) for the art of metal-making to spread from the Balkans where it may have begun to everywhere else, in light of the fact that it seems other inventions (agriculture, for instance, and the wheel) and even borrowed words seem to have spread much faster than the knowledge of metallurgy.  Hmmm....

Whatever.  Long before man gave up dwelling in caves in favor of man-made habitations, mankind was using "paints" to express their artistic urges on the walls of caves across France and Spain (Lascaux, for instance).  For all we know, such painting was common but because of particular conditions in climate inside former cave dwellings, no trace of such artwork remains today.  Or is yet to be discovered... 

This story is interesting because it shows (1) the urge of creativity in humans (which we know existed from earliest times), (2) the desire for beautiful surroundings in human habitation to mimic nature as closely as possible, (3) the inventiveness of humans, and (4) the use of extremely old goddess symbols (the chevron and the zig-zag) as decorative expressions - of faith????  Who is to say?

Ancient humans painted their homes
Mon Nov 1, 2010 4:7PM

A new study shows that ancient humans painted their homes with natural colors to brighten up their dwellings and enhance important buildings.

Excavations at a Stone Age settlement on the Orkney Island in northern Scotland revealed that man's ancestors made paint by using earthy colors like oranges, yellows and reddish-browns pigments from ground-up minerals and mixing them with animal fat and eggs.

Researchers found a number of painted and decorated stones which they say belonged to buildings constructed by locals in about 3,000 BCE.

Archeologists say the stones might have been used in entranceways or areas of the building, which had particular significance. They were also used to mark important buildings in the area.

“We have found seven stones in this ritual center,” The Daily Mail quoted Nick Card of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology as saying.

“Some of them were covered in paint and others appear to have had designs such as chevrons and zigzags painted on," he added.

"Paint pots have been found at various other sites before but we assumed this was for personal adornment. But we now know they used it to paint their walls."


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