Yes! They used cartoon-like techniques to give the impression that wild beasts were trotting or running across cave walls...
That what a "new"* (see at the end of the article) study, from two French researchers (archaeologist Marc Azéma of the University of Toulouse–Le
Mirail in France and independent French artist Florent Rivère) argued: about 30,000 years ago Paleolithic artists used "animation
effects" in their paintings.
According to the researchers, this would explain multiple heads or limbs on some cave paintings.
"Prehistoric man foreshadowed one of the fundamental characteristics of visual perception, retinal persistence," Azéma and Rivère wrote.
Azéma, who spent 20 years researching Stone Age animation techniques, isolated 53 figures in 12 French caves which
superimpose two or more images to represent trot or gallop, head tossing and tail shaking.
"Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally
horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied," Azéma said.
When the paintings are viewed by flickering torchlight, the animated effect "achieves its full impact," said Azéma.
"That such animation was intentional is endorsed by the likely use of incised disks as thaumatropes," he added.
Rivère examined Magdalenian bone discs -- objects found in the Pyrenees, the north of Spain and the Dordogne which measure about 1.50 inches in
Often pierced in their centre, the discs have been generally interpreted as buttons or pendants.
"Given that some are decorated on both sides with animals shown in different positions, we realized that another type of use, relating to sequential
animation, was possible," the researchers said.
* Source is Discovery News, however, it was known since 2005: it is based
on Azéma’s Ph.D. thesis research, which he summarized in a 2005 paper for the International Newsletter On Rock Art, which is edited by French cave
art expert Jean Clottes.
Azéma shows how cave artists created the sensation of movement in the animals they drew both by superimposing multiple numbers of legs, heads, and
other body parts and by orienting groups of animals in dynamic ways that suggest motion, which is similar to what animators do today. In the Lascaux
Cave, for example, some 20 horses were drawn with multiple heads, legs, or tails. One Lascaux horse was drawn with five superimposed heads and several
manes. Similar techniques were used at La Marche Cave in France’s Vienne department, where a horse was drawn with so many heads, tails, and
backsides that it looks like a blur on the cave wall.
Azéma finds such animation techniques even in the earliest known cave art, at the 32,000-year-old Chauvet Cave in the French Ardèche (see panel
above), where a bison is drawn with eight legs. Azéma even suggests that the artist who painted Chauvet’s famous Horse Panel, which features four
superbly drawn horses’ heads, might have intended to depict one horse in motion—although he adds that it is not possible to know for sure.
edit on 9-6-2012 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by elevenaugust
Azéma even suggests that the artist who painted Chauvet’s famous Horse Panel, which features four superbly drawn horses’ heads, might have
intended to depict one horse in motion—although he adds that it is not possible to know for sure.
edit on 9-6-2012 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)
The animation aspect is interesting, but what's even more interesting is the picture of the rhinoceros with horses from a painting made in a French
Cave possibly around 30,000 years ago? What's up with that? Rhino's are considerably south and in sub-Sahara Africa, the last I checked anyway. It
makes me question the age of these prehistoric murals, unless of course there is a logical explanation?
I would say it works when the air is thick with smoke, the smells of the wild game wafting about (blood and otherwise), and the swirling mind's eye
from the use of hallucinogens with flickering light of fire and the movements of the participants.
I bet they could see the animals moving about in real time as they recanted their tales and fed the spirits within. Very intense!
There were surely exceptionally talented artists alive at the time. This period of history, and its art, has always fascinated me since early
childhood. These people knew and drew every detail of animals that we, as modern people, will never see in true life, like the wooly rhino and the
If anybody hasn't seen Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, shot in France's famous Chauvet Cave I highly recommend you check it out. It's
absolutely stunning, both the film itself and the subject matter.
Just the ability to draw in this manner is not only showing superior skill, but also memory, technique and an importance of wanting to preserve the
images for future generations.
There is so much more going on here than meets the eye.
I could not do that. Given the tools they had at the time, just gives you more of an impact as to how clever these images are, and the people who
IMO, these pictures have come from a knowledge far beyond the time they were painted. These would have been skills that must have been taught and
passed down along a chain of decades, perhaps hundreds, of years. This is not something you just up and do when you feel like it.
My problem with that, though, is where are the very first ones? Why do we see superb art like this, but very little of 'stick men and stick
Where is the progression from very basic images to this type of colourful artisitic expression?
Did we have some form of society before we became 'cavemen'? Are these skills the remains of something that was, in itself, far superior to the time
of the cave artists?
Incredible pictures.. needs far more research done on them.
I'd like to see all those who call man of that period primitive to all get out their pencils and paper and try drawing those animals as well as they
Absolutely my friend. The mind of man, even in its most simple state, is not primitive. Ours is a mind capable of abstract thought. Not just
capable, but wired completely for abstract thought. To such a degree that concrete thinking is considered a symptom of mental illness.
This is a great thread, proposing a great concept that honestly has me thinking. Great post, OP.
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