Geographic and Temporal Range of Cave Art

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Geographic and Temporal Range of Cave Art

The people of the upper Paleolithic left behind many

clues to how they lived and what they did. But unlike anything

before them, they have left clues to why they did what they did.

The clues are in the art they left behind in caves.

Dates, Styles, and Geographic Range

Upper Paleolithic art is comprised of at least three

periods, the Aurignacian, the Solutrean, and the Magdalenian.

The dates for these are now estimated at: Aurignacian 35,000-

20,000 B.C. The Solutrean 20,000- 15,000 B.C. The Magdalenian

14,000- 8,000 B.C. The ranges of these dates change as new

material is uncovered. For example one book, Primitive Art, puts

these dates around 20,000 years earlier (Fagan, 1995:136),

(Christensen, 1955:314).

These periods are again separated into smaller periods.

The Aurignacian I and II, the Gravettian around 23,000 B.C. also

known as the Perigordian. The Proto-Magdalenian, the

Aurignacian, the Proto-Solutrean, the Solutrean, the Proto-

Magdalenian I and II, and the Middle and Upper Magdalenian

(Leroi-Gourhan, 1967:493).

See chart 1 (Leroi-Gourhan, 1967:493)

The art of the Aurignacian does not exist in caves, it is

found on small bone fragments and stone slabs. They show early

attempts at representaion using simple lines and colours (Leroi-

Gourhan, 1967:206). The representations shown are mostly

animal's heads, forequarters, and dorsal lines. The style

changed from a hard continuous profile showing only the

forequarters to a more free standing pose showing most of the

body (Huyghe, 1957: 31). No action or foreshortening is shown in

the early art of the Aurignacian. This may indicate a lack of

understanding of perspective (Huyghe, 1957:21).

The Gravettian is a period where eastern and western

Europe underwent a vast cultural exchange (Leroi-Gourhan,

1967:208). The Magdalenian period is where we find almost all

(80% according to Fagan, 1995:137)...