The documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” opened my eyes to ideas about the upper Paleolithic humans. It is absolutely fascinating that over 30,000 years ago humans were paining such beautiful pieces of art. The resources alone such as ochre were difficult to attain. Trade with other humans over large expanses of land was needed. Ochre can be seen as the red colored depictions on the wall. This shows a high level of social complexity. It is also impressive how some of the paintings are realistic enough so that we can easily decipher what is being represented but still abstract. This abstract thought requires complex cultural ideas and understanding of symbolism. The climate these humans lived in was harsh and forbidding. This makes the cave paintings even more impressive because it means they had time to construct art, not just purely survive.
The documentary explained how the Chauvet cave was preserved because a large stone fell and sealed off the cave. We can see what the cave may have looked like when it was open and the sun could shine in. Even in the dark, the cave is naturally beautiful. This makes me think that perhaps humans as far back as 32,000 years ago may have had the same opinion of beauty. It is clear that the cave was not likely used as shelter since no human bones can be found in the cave, only dangerous carnivores such as cave bears. Another factor that points to the fact that these humans may have chosen to use this cave to express their artistic symbolism because it appeared as a beautiful, was that through radiocarbon dating, scientists discovered some paintings that overlapped were over 5,000 years apart. This reminds me of modern graffiti in a way because people feel a connection with those who previously applied art to something even though they never met them and add their own on top.
It is interesting how the images in the cave show many animals and large beasts such as cave bears, rhinoceroses, and horses. These animals would have resided close to these humans during interglacial periods and must have had a big impact on their lives. They provided food and materials for shelter. I also wonder if they instilled fear in these humans. There is only one human depiction of a woman with a bison head in the cave. This shows that these humans not only focused on survival, trade, tool making, and expression of art, but reproduction was important to them. This allowed the human race to continue to grow and expand into what it is today.