Art was a huge step forward in human history. The development of art is one of the most intresting question in the history of the Paleolithic era and the intelectual development of man. Art is clear evidence of abstract thought. Animals have been shown to use anhd even fashion primitive tools. Man is the only species to create art.
And this notably occurred some 2 million years after the appearance of the first tools. There is considerable debate as to when the first art appeared and to just what can be classified as art. There is general aggreement, however, that it occurred in the Upper Paleolithic and occurred roughly at the same time as anatomically modern man. It is also roughly cintemopranheous with the appearance of clothing. Most art experts focus on the Late Upper Paleolithic period beginning about 40,000 BC through the Pleistocene ice age, the end of which is commonly thought to have occurred near 8,000 BC when we begin to see the appearance of agriculture and ealy writing systems.
Anthropologists have found evidence of two kinds of art, both portable and or stationary. Both of the art forms which have been found are limited in scope. Portable art by definition had to be small and light weight. This meant small figurines or various decorated objects. These objects were carved from various materials (stone, bone or antler) or modeled with clay. Most was figurative. Somke of the best known items are Venus figures. Stationary art has also been found. The best known examples here are the cave paintings found in in western Europe. These are magnificent works of art by any definition. And theyvrequired considerablec thought and effort to produce. The paints had to be manufactured by mixing minerals, ochres, burnt bone meal and charcoal into mediums of water, blood, animal fats and tree saps. Anthropolgists abd art experts do not yet know about the purpose of these paintings. They may not have been just the creaion of something beautiful. Their location (far from the living spaces in the caves) suggest ritualistic or magical purposes. Cave paintings include many non-figurative representations, although it is the beautiful realistic depictions of animals that are the best known. Strangely humans are usually either absent or depicted as crude stick figures. Some of the animals, however, are magnificently rendered. Chauvet Cave is a prehistoric master work.
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