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Paleolithic Art



Basic info:

The most famous caves  with wall paintings discovered in Europe:

  • Lascaux /15 000 BC/ France
  • Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc /30 000 BC/ France
  • Altamira /18 000 BC/ Spain


What did the ancient artists paint?

  • animals like bison, horses, lions,birds, bears
  • as well as abstract forms: lines and dots










What paints did they use?

  • red and yellow ochre
  • carbon for black
  • china clay for white






How did they apply the paints? With:

  • fingers
  • sticks
  • fur brushes

Why did they paint?

We dont know exactly. Possibly to celebrate ahunting success orrepresent a mystical ritual.










Lascaux - how it all started:

September 1940, a 17- year -old Marcel, his friends and a dog Robot go on a treasure hunt. There were rumours about a secret passage underground. Robot starts digging - the boys are happy, it might be the legendary tunnel. Luckily they have an oil lamp. When the opening in the ground is big enough, they slide in, one by one and land in a dark chamber underground.

What they see is amazing: colourful herds of horses, oxen and deer. The find is huge - over 600 paintings and 1500 engravings. 1948- thousands of visitors flock to see the priceless treasure.

But this is also the moment when the problems occur:

  • carbon dioxide exhaled by 2000 tourists per day affect the paintings
  • algae on visitors' shoes bring the "green leprosy" growing on the wall
  • white disease develops - calcite crystals appear, high temperature and high humidity













1963- the caves are closed to the public. Only a scarce number of scientists are let inside. They have to wear special outfit and gloves. Nowadays we can visit Lascaux II which is a replica of the original cave.

A curiosity:

Banksy, a cult graffiti artist, put a fake, prehistoric rock art of a caveman with a shopping trolley on the walls of the British Museum. The joke went unnoticed by the public for 3 days.











For more information visit HERE