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Thread: The Origins of Cave Paintings

  1. #1

    The Origins of Cave Paintings

    Out with Malcolm near Holmbush last week, slowly stalking a block of mixed woodland, with darkness fast approaching.

    A fallow pricket came into view about 100 yards away, heading slowly across our position. I started tracking it through the scope, and saw it disappear behind some bushes.
    "Shoot now", I was told. Twice. My version of events is that I had stupidly left the scope mag. on about 9x and the restricted field of view meant I didn't see the beast emerging from the other side of the cover. It had been standing in the open, perfectly broadside at about 30 yards, and I had missed the whole event. I did manage to see it bounding away, which was an engaging and delightful sight.
    Malcolm was very understanding and DID NOT collapse with laughter. Back at the bothey the guys he told were similarly sympathetic. Those of you who know Malcolm will understand that I am describing this accurately.

    Later that evening at home, I was recounting the day to the old lady. I stuck a piece of paper to the wall, and drew a deer, then some bushes, then another deer, and a deer bounding towards the horizon. I thought this explained the whole occasion rather well.
    Then she said "do you realise that all looks a bit like those cave paintings we saw in the Dordogne?"

    So, it occured to me that maybe the reason for those paintings was the hapless hunter trying to describe his day to the lady of the cave when she proffered the dreaded question "And how did you manage to mess up again today, then?"

  2. #2
    Excellent theory. Cave paintings that were used by men to tell the story to other men would surely have naked women and a patina of spewed alcohol. Lacking those things, they had to be describing it to their women - probably also explaining why they were late or why they needed the newest model spear shaft!

  3. #3
    We can only guess at why these animals were drawn, but the artistic skills that they demonstrate are excellent.

    What I do find difficult to understand is the portrayal of stone age people dressed in untailored animal skins.

    Well crafted stone tools of many different types that include knives and scrapers have been found that date back hundreds of thousands of years belonging to people that lived and hunted during Ice Ages.

    Loosely draped skins would have been of no practical use in keeping warm and would have been a hindrance when stalking.

    The tightly bound sealskins traditionally used by Inuit hunters gives a clue to what is useful, presumably stone age people wore something similar ?

    atb Tim

  4. #4
    No, hate to tell you but you are wrong, I know for a fact that Malcolm has never been to the Dordogne

    John
    A clever man knows his strengths, a wise man knows his weaknesses

  5. #5
    Made me laugh as I am currently at the mercy of the better half for the next 4 to 6 weeks after a foot op yesterday.

  6. #6
    I visited the caves near Puente Viesgo (Northern Spain) a few years ago and was really impressed. The paintings are mainly depictions of game animals.....Horses, Deer, Ibex, Aurochs, Bison etc also dots, crosses, stencils of hands and occasional phallic symbols!
    What I found most interesting was that some of the earliest art in one cave was 40,000 yrs old and in the same cave were paintings/images from about 15,000yrs ago, so groups of hunters had visited the same caves over a period of about 25,000 yrs or so.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JAYB View Post
    No, hate to tell you but you are wrong, I know for a fact that Malcolm has never been to the Dordogne

    John
    100% correct JAYB, never been there. However I have seen rock art in parts of Africa.


    As for Terrier..............well it was one of those classical moments when we nearly shook hands with the deer and you could have taken it out with a catapult as it was about 20yds away!!

    I asked Terrier if he was a member of the Green party and on a deer conservation drive Never mind there is always the next time.

    Good stalking with you again Terrier, and a Happy Christmas
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  8. #8
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timbrayford View Post
    We can only guess at why these animals were drawn, but the artistic skills that they demonstrate are excellent.

    What I do find difficult to understand is the portrayal of stone age people dressed in untailored animal skins.

    Well crafted stone tools of many different types that include knives and scrapers have been found that date back hundreds of thousands of years belonging to people that lived and hunted during Ice Ages.

    Loosely draped skins would have been of no practical use in keeping warm and would have been a hindrance when stalking.

    The tightly bound sealskins traditionally used by Inuit hunters gives a clue to what is useful, presumably stone age people wore something similar ?

    atb Tim
    I'm glad to see someone else thinks this way. TV "reconstructions" seem to be irresistibly drawn to shaggy barbarity over sophisticated practicality when it comes to depicting prehistoric people. They would presumably excuse themselves on the basis of "lack of evidence", but what evidence do they have that our distant ancestors were so shabbily dressed or coiffured? And what's with the chasing after deer with spears tactic? If it was any good, wouldn't someone, somewhere, be using it today? Or did it just come to an end naturally when one of our grandfathers first went into business with a wolf?
    Last edited by Mr. Gain; 15-12-2013 at 09:34.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Gain View Post
    I'm glad to see someone else thinks this way. TV "reconstructions" seem to be irresistibly drawn to shaggy barbarity over sophisticated practicality when it comes to depicting prehistoric people. They would presumably excuse themselves on the basis of "lack of evidence", but what evidence do they have that our distant ancestors were so shabbily dressed or coiffured? And what's with the chasing after deer with spears tactic? If it was any good, wouldn't someone, somewhere, be using it today? Or did it just come to an end naturally when one of our grandfathers first went into business with a wolf?
    It is now becoming acknowledged that Neanderthal spears were stabbing weapons rather than for throwing.

    I cannot imagine that in a wooded environment lurking in the bushes waiting to stab a passing deer or boar would have been that successful and pursuing a woolly rhino or mammoth on the open tundra in this manner must have been suicidal.

    However, if your prey was already immobilised by being caught in a snare or a pit fall trap then these spears would have been useful for despatching the animal without getting too close to sharp hooves, teeth and horns etc.

    atb Tim

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