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Modern styles in ancient art

28 Feb 2017
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An article by Lorraine Boissoneault on - Prehistoric Pointillism? Long Before Seurat, Ancient Artists Chiseled Mammoths Out of Dots - reports on newly discovered 38,000-year-old cave art which some claim predates the French post-Impressionist art form.

modern techniques in ancient art

A graphic rendering of the pointillist aurochs from Abri Blanchard. Image: R. Bourrillon

Almost 100 years ago, archaeologists began work at Abri Blanchard and Abri Cellier, two archaeological sites in Dordogne, France. In 2012 that Randall White and a team of researchers visited Abri Blanchard, and then Abri Cellier in 2014, not expecting to find new discoveries. However, a large pile of limestone blocks stacked at Abri Cellier was in fact covered in markings. Chiseled into one of the stones were rows of dots that formed a striking pattern: a woolly mammoth.

A cave painting located near the Chauvet Cave entrance composed of a cluster of large dots, which may represent a mammoth.

Randall White, a professor of anthropology at New York University and one of the authors of a study published last Friday in the journal Quaternary International, had recently found an image made with a similar technique at Abri Blanchard earlier. They used microscopic analysis to look at surface abrasions to confirm the patterns matched human-created marks rather than marks left by nature. It was confirmed that the mammoth was the product of an Aurignacian culture.

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Approximately 40,000 years ago, when Europe was entrenched in the Ice Age, the Aurignacians became the first modern humans to arrive in Western Europe, where Neanderthals had already settled. For millennia, the Aurignacians occupied climatic refuges in France, Germany, Spain and elsewhere, hunting game such as mammoths, horses and aurochs.

White states that the Aurignacians were inspired by the world around them to create art; decorated beads, sculpted figurines, paintings and engravings. Moreover, some of the paintings and engravings were both graphic and stylized. Genevieve von Petzinger, archaeologist and author of The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols agrees - art was being created by very 'modern minds'.

Genevieve von Petzinger The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols:

France Rock Art Archive:


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