I’m not sure that the second part of this blog is a fair question to ask; unless you possess a skill to rival da Vinci or the people that painted so well in the caves in Europe, it isn’t possible to know what was going on in their heads. And even if you were that great at something, the things going on in your head might be completely different than what’s going on in another person’s head. I’m also not sure what I think about the cave artists’ cognitive and perceptual levels. It seems to me they would have had to practice quite a bit before they acquired the skill to paint so beautifully, but I don’t think it takes that high a cognitive level to see that shading adds depth to pictures. I’m not trying to take away from the paintings, because they are amazing, and the fact that they have lasted for so long is a testament to the brains of the people who painted them; because the artists would have had to know that painting in a cave would allow their work to last longer than if it was in the open air. I guess in short I am just not sure what I think of the cognitive functioning of our ice age ancestors.
As to the different theories about what the paintings and engravings were for, I believe they probably had multiple different functions. I think the most common reason for the paintings is male and female initiation sites, but I also think they might have been for hunting magic. The reason I feel strongly for both of these theories is because of the Native Americans. I know these two groups lived a world away from each other and were removed from each other in time, but if you agree with evolution, then humans all came from the same place before splitting off. Native Americans sang and danced for every kind of ritual imaginable, it makes sense that other groups would use another form of art for the same purpose. It makes sense that they would have made the paintings as realistic as possible to “ensure” a good hunt, and the footprints from adolescents make me agree with the theory of initiation rites because if it was just for hunting magic the adult hunters would have been in charge of painting instead of children.