synopsis of slide lecture -
neolithic art

outline drawing of panarama of fertility figures; paleolitic
This frieze continues to demonstrate the importance of reproduction to these people for tribal survival as expressed in their religion;
fertility themes are displayed in sort of a panorama.

Human face "mask" (natural stone formation with slight human embellishment) from Altamira, Spain

It may be that the first art was suggested by a natural formation resembling something else, such as in this case of a human face suggested by this rock. In art like this, the artist makes only slight changes to the natural formation.

This particular type of rock is not native to its own cave, so it is known this was discovered elsewhere and "brought home".

Precursors of hieroglyphics and the written word , these symbols may have evolved from the first primitive markings made when mere hand-eye coordination was the objective,
like a child using crayons.

Some of these symbols have been interpreted to be male and female symbols;
others will probably never be deciphered.

"Paired Signs" from the paleolithic period

neolithic stone circle 3000BC Dartmoor Deven England
Circular constructions like this from prehistoric England may have evolved from single stones called "menhirs": individual stones believed to have spiritual potency, that probably were placed in significant locations.

This American Indian "medicine wheel" from 13th century Wyoming resembles the structures in England.

Both cultures used such constructions as astronomical calendars.

Big-Horn medicine wheel, 100 feet

The innate symbolism of the circle is demonstrated in this drawing by an older child, evoking the basic mandala design.
The circular shape, often inspired by the sun,
can be seen in these "doodles" of younger children - which are also exercises in coordination.

mandala design

pre-school, "toddler" art

These paleolithic symbols bear a resemblance to childhood markings....
The sun is evident, but did every mark have a meaning? Or were the artists "practicing", developing their "language"?

from the "Great Panel of Signs"
Cuevo del Christo, Spain


.next | home