paleo cartoons

Bison from the End Chamber of Chauvet Cave – from Bradshaw Foundation

This is fascinating news:
Prehistoric cave artists used cartoon-like techniques to give the impression that their images were moving across cave walls, two French researchers have suggested. A new study of cave art across France – in which animals appear to have multiple limbs, heads and tails – has found that the paintings are actually primitive attempts at animation. When the images are viewed under the unsteady light of flickering flames the images can appear to move as the animals they represent do, the research claims.

Mr Azéma, after 20 years researching Stone Age animation techniques, has identified 53 paintings in 12 French caves which superimpose two or more images to apparently represent movement.

More at Daily Mail, UK. The animations created by archaeologist Marc Azéma show how the paintings might look to our eye in the flickering fires in those very ancient caves.

This study makes me recall Werner Herzog’s film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. (The image above is reposted from that blog entry but is not necessarily identified by M. Azéma as an example.) Also my beloved Earth’s Children series of books by Jean M. Auel. Her last book especially has vividly described scenes of paintings being created in the caves, as well as the sacred rituals taking place in them in flickering firelight and in darkness.

Kiitos, thanks to Finnish author and blog friend Anna Amnell for her post on this, one of my favourite themes on my blog. As Anna said, the more we learn about these early humans, the more we are amazed by their intelligence and creativity.

September 26, 2012 in Books, Films, Rock Art & Archaeology by Marja-Leena