Rogue Community College
Rogue Community College
Phone Search Menu Search


Art of Pre-History, Cave Art and Neolithic

Important understanding and insights:

It is the act of giving form to conceptual thought that makes us truly human. And then, the ability to imagine the future through the image. A projection of intent, which will affect the future.

  • The collective subconscious of our culture has buried with in it essential aspects of pre history human potential, that is a memory of being in relationship with all things, matter or spirit.
  • ART is the medium of this expression
  • Prehistory art is analogous to the Garden story because philosophically art identifies the first record of people's emergence of "I am".
  • The imagination and creative power to conceptualize thought in the pictures they made, in response to the world around them is a truly first step in the process of self-actualization. Just like the child's development of ego and right brain capabilities.
  • Their need and ability to make images that define one's places in the real world and in the conceptual cosmos cannot be understated.
  • Cultural knowledge is maintained though images and oral traditions, leaving a legacy of knowledge passed down from our ancestors, which is understanding for future generations to build on.

Civilized society has lost the sense of inter-relatedness, a dialogue with a sentient nature and cosmos.

Dependence on left-brain material consumption has alienated us from a trust of intuition and feeling to engage nature and the mysteries.

Our body and mind are capable of sensing and making sense of more than left-brain linear thinking.

An Esoteric thought; a body with primate ancestral memory is unexpectedly born with greater intelligence, and conscience, to rise above monkey brain or adolescence behavior. Question is whether or not this higher civilized moral behavior is brought here, or evolved from nature herself.

Suggested readings:

Clan of the Cave Bears, The 5th Revelation, Mutant Message, Ishmael, Notes from the Cosmos, Celestine Prophecy, Hanta Yo.

The Purpose of Prehistory Art

The purpose of prehistory art is to first satisfy physical survival concerns. The images these people made provoked a focus of attention that maintained socially, the necessary cooperative relationship to the elements, plants and animals, which they depended on for survival.

Then, Prehistory art will evolve to satisfy metaphysical identity needs and concerns.

Their art demonstrated a natural curiosity to participate with non-physical realms beyond left-brain linear abilities.

Prehistory art demonstrates a belief and process to engage arenas of experience beyond normal, linear time.

We have an inherent ability to reclaim this experience that we have been denied culturally.

In the religious sense, Prehistory Art is a process, a ritual to provoke empathetic magic, to project thought, and needs or reverence into the future, or to other dimensional realms of relative intelligence.

Philosophically, Cave Art is to make real the concept of being a part of, in the web relationship with nature.

Then in the Neolithic, Megaliths recorded and celebrated the cycles of life, as was observed in the physical and celestial realms like the zodiac and the 26,000-year procession. A bond with cosmos is made.

Prehistory to Cave Art

Primitive Survival: Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon

200000 BC to 75000 BC

  • Neanderthal controls fire and will dominate for 200000 years, as climate moves into the Ice Ages. Found only in Europe and Asia.
  • Early family groups mostly concerned with survival needs. Tribal warfare is probably more common.
  • Migrations, temperate climates
  • Stone tools, caves and architectural circles for shelter.
  • Neanderthal art is mostly of the Women, etched in natural stone, with rituals celebrating elemental and ancestral worship.
  • Ritual burial by Neanderthal with St Barnaby thistle, cornflowers, medicinal plants for food and medicine in next life for renewal of life.
  • Little intellectual planning, mostly scavenging. Heavy thick anatomy for cold environment. Did not store foods.
  • Their brain was larger than Cro-Magnon, but less capable in speech and conceptual thinking.
  • Neanderthal's people craft and aesthetic does not evolve, but remains the same for 1000's of years.
  • These people disappear from the landscape by 30000 BC
  • Replaced by the Cro-Magnon peoples. Neanderthal can't adapt to changing climate and social stress.
  • Cro-Magnon's ability to survive and make social, individual moral decision-making is greatly enhanced.
  • Cro-Magnon are smaller in anatomy, but with advanced brain capabilities in speech and memory. Esoterically, probably from India and Ethiopia.
  • They have fully developed frontal lobes, the conscience wired for "religious" experience.
  • They are our ancestors, and can be traced genetically.

By 30,000 BC the Cro-Magnon will leave a legacy that socially indicates a matriarchal culture, with images of the Mother as giver and sustainer of life.

This establishes intelligent cooperation and philosophically the Bond with Mother and Family into our ancestry memory.

This is a time when the primate sapiens brain, fight or flight, begins to exhibit conceptual thinking of a cooperative relationship to family and Nature.

This associative thinking is used first, to Survive, and then to Exercise curiosity in Identifying relationship with Nature and the Cosmos.

Ethiopia: Crafted stone tools in deposits of volcanic ash dated at 2.6 million years. The tools, which include rounded fist-size stones and smaller sharp-edged flakes show a remarkable level of craftsmanship.

Africa: 2 million year old circles of stones, and simple images of women. These are common by 400,000 BC

Germany: Fire Hardened wooden spears dating to 400,0000 years found in an ancient lakeshore hunting ground.

Australia: Art dating 190,000 years ago. Australia had advanced Art earlier than Europe.

Siberia: Primitive humans thrived in cold Siberia 30,000 years ago.

Bone Flute: The oldest musical instrument ever discovered, fashioned out of bear bone is believed to be about 45 thousand years old.

Introduction to Ice Age
  • 110,000 to 75000 BC Sudden dramatic changes in global climate. Panama canal closes. Atlantic and Pacific Oceans separated; powerful storms and cooling temperatures, like the frozen mastodons in Siberia. Rapid changes in the sentient primates' ability to adapt to the changing environment.
  • 100,000BC. Evidence shows Neanderthals practice cannibalism to survive the cold. Brains and marrow have high contents of fat and protein.
  • Adversity brings rapid changes in fewer generations

70000 — 40000 BC

  • Cro-Magnon will replace Neanderthals with growing sophistication in flint tools and their art.
  • A celebration of Mother and Nature becomes the common theme.
  • Their art exhibits a counterpoint to homo sapiens adolescent monkey thinking, leading to barbaric behavior.

40000 — 15000 BC Upper Paleolithic Ice Ages

Cave Art:
  • Ice ages intensify until 20,000 BC
  • There were abrupt warming periods, then quick-freezing for long periods of time.
  • Transition from freezing Ice ages to warm climates may have taken less than a lifetime, before another 1000 yrs of advancing ice.
  • In cold times caves were shelter
  • Art is found in the interiors
  • In temperate times, they lived outside.
  • The cave, a sanctuary for their art and rituals
Cave Art

The art in your textbook is the best of this time period.

They exhibit sophisticated images to conceptualize relationship to the Elements, The Mother, Family and Nature, and mysteries. Is most advanced, and has a degree of aesthetic that sets it apart from rest of western world.

Prehistory Art/ Cave Art, The Cro-Magnon

45-15000 BC

Cro-Magnon is said to have replaced the Neanderthal. Perhaps both migrated out of Africa and Asia. Raises the question of more than one Eve. Yet, evidence suggests that both lived side by side for 1000's of years with no evidence of competition or warfare and some evidence of mixed genetics.

The making of images by Cro-Magnon is very important, like when a child first recognizes and puts names on the things around them. Conceptualizing thought in form. This separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Out dated ideas of cave art images, was that they were made to capture the spirit of the animal for food, as in target practice. But capture is the wrong word. Cave art is more a celebration of life, and cooperation with Nature and its gift to these earth people.

Contemporarily we understand that cave art was made to ensure people's participation and being in harmony with the world and the mysteries around them.

Cro-Magnon's brought an ability that made Neanderthals out dated. A more advanced brain. Cro-Magnon had large frontal lobes "wired" for associative thinking. The power to make art that conceptualizes idea and understanding beyond memory or analytical thinking.

The Cro-Magnon people, had the same brain and physical stature as us, and will bring a rapid evolution of innovation and conceptual thinking to their art and life.

Typically, each individual group's lived within a 40-mile radius, with 50 miles in between each group. They shared the environment with the saber tooth, large wolves and migrating herder of animals.

There is growing thought that Homo Sapien communities of people up into this time suffered great losses from intertribal warfare.

Socially their lives were short and people were influenced by dramatic weather and Earth changes during this time. And certainly, the quality of life would depend on how enlightened the leadership of the clan was.

Spring and Fall gatherings of small clans or communities ensured a healthy and genetic evolution.

When the ice was advancing the cave offered a womb like protective place, where there is evidence of 10,000 years of continued use.

It's said that with the stress of the ice ages, problem solving lead to great leaps in understanding, and in these times there was most likely a magical interplay with both physical and non physical realities.

When the environment was warm, and the glaciers retreated, people lived outside and the caves became like churches, sanctuaries to make art, and to celebrate the continuity of life.

The cave offered a place to confirm in their art, socially a matriarchal culture based on nourishment and cooperation between themselves and nature. Thus, the bond with Mother and Nature.

Then, the Bond with the Cosmos; engaging other arenas outside of linear time and experience. All right brain understanding that modern cultures have compromised.

At best, socially, our ancestors governed themselves politically through social democracy, based on a philosophy or attitude of egalitarianism or reverence for all things.

There will be differences in social behavior between tribes wherever homo sapiens, earth people migrated in these formative years.

Going into the Ice Ages these people already had scientifically, control of fire, tool and clothing making and religiously, ritual burial, elemental worship, and ancestral connection.

For hunter and gatherers, the cave socially offered a stable, secure environment with lots of leisure time. For these hunter and gathers their diet was mostly roots and small animals for protein.

Cave Art is a cultural explosion of creativity, to exercise their natural curiosity to identify and make relationship to the world around them.

Around the world, the best-known cave art is found in France and Spain made by Cro-Magnon peoples during the last Ice Age in Europe. This art, to this time, is recognized as being the most beautiful in aesthetic and purpose.

Religiously they developed ritual, to evoke empathic magic around their art to celebrate a philosophy of equal exchange between themselves and nature.

They saw the earth as sentient, alive with feelings. Which the art could help provoke a connection with.

Religiously, ritual was being developed as a process to dialogue with the Mana, or spirit of the images.

This ensured a relationship between themselves and nature, which they depended on for survival by protecting thought into the future. And in the identity sense, participation with the web of relationship.

These people lived a life where the boundaries between linear left-brain thinking and paranormal right brain abilities are thin.

Cave Art was first thought to either be unbelievable crude, primitive or childlike.

It is difficult for modern, dominant, and left-brain thinking to make sense of. So it was explained in technological or biological terms. This was limiting because we know their brains were as big as ours.

Now we look at how cultural and environmental characteristics affect the style, and content of their art. And then the iconographic, or interpreting of its meaning, revealing their belief system. Which we can learn from.

Cave Art Aesthetic—an expressive style, process oriented, for empathetic magic to celebrate nature, and the mystery's for survival, then identity concerns.

Characteristics of Cave Art —Ice Ages

Front of cave paved with slabs of sandstone. Art is found in the inner sanctums. Some are very remote, 100 yards back into the depths of the cave. Difficult to access, which gives a sense of sacredness and humility.

Post and Lintel entrances are sometimes found in the front part of the cave.

Flying Shaman is at the bottom of 15ft, well.

A visual, sensual experience, not intellectual. Process vs. object oriented. Children's footprints on wall overlooking images.

Wall paintings were made by using oil / fat lamps with plant wicks, earth pigments, charcoal and spit as the binder. Natural formations are used to enhance a 3-D effect.

Light, sound, movement, chanting, flute, and drums. To quiet the ego, empower beliefs through right brain experience.

In terms of style, an expressive play to senses emulating the aliveness and movements in nature. Formal enough to contemplate philosophy of equal exchange, or dialogue.

Realism to confirm relationships to animals, plants, elementals to which there dialogue or reverence is directed.

Importantly, Abstraction to conceptualize a celebration of woman nature, and participation with the web of relationships.

Humanistically, cave art establishes equal share and access. Humility in wonder of their place in the cosmos.

Other Ideas About Cave Art

Evidence of grouping different types of animals.

Alta Mira Cave, France — one wall shows a herd of bison with females in the center wallowing and males outside in defense.

Most animals depicted were not the most common food.

They were objects of worship, like the buffalo was to the Native Americans.