Week 3 – Rock Art

I am very impressed with the artistic skill that many of these Cro-Magnon people possessed. Painting something is not an easy task, and it requires a certain skill set. The fact that many of these paintings were in isolated areas probably means that the paintings were recreated my memory; they weren’t looking at a rhinoceros while painting it. This shows that these people weren’t just copying something they were looking at, they were forming their own perception and then recreating it. Also, the fact that people had time to invest in artwork shows that they have moved past the era where the purpose of life is just to survive. The presence of paintings indicates that there could now be a greater meaning to life.

I have a theory on cave paintings that wasn’t mentioned in the lecture; the theory of story-telling. Throughout history there are cases of men going off to battle and then coming home and recounting their stories. In medieval times, there were singers who would tell the tales of great knights. I view cave paintings as the same thing, it is the recreation and documenting of hunting battles. An example of this is the “gored man” painting in the cave at Lascaux.  This connects with the hunting magic theory, where the paintings were believed to offer luck or a blessing to a hunt. This theory is very plausible, but it cannot possibly be the only correct theory. Also, if cave paintings were only for hunting blessings, why would the “gored man” be painted?

I like the theory of male/female initiation sites, which describes paintings to be signifying something such as the leap from childhood to adulthood. It seems to be a human trait to celebrate milestones such as birthdays and graduations. I would not be surprised if this tradition started with the Cro-Magnons. In the lecture, it was mentioned that hand prints and footprints are the main evidence for initiation sites, which makes perfect sense. When I was a kid, my mom would measure how tall I was getting by marking my height on a door frame. It’s possible that the prints were a form of marking the aging process.