My perception of the “caveman” has truly changed. In the past, my thoughts of a caveman was a rather unintelligent, barbaric beast. However, after studying remarkable works of art such as “Woman from Willendorf “ and “Hall of Bulls”, which were created during the Paleolithic Period (40,000 –8,000 BC.), I now understand that these people were not savages. Rather, they were mere interesting, creative, artistic beings trapped in an unfortunate time period. Later in the Neolithic Period, I begin to see man becoming somewhat more civilized and building bigger and better. Instead of using sticks, bones, and mud to create buildings, like in the Paleolithic Period, man begins to use large stones to build. Great examples of using stones to build are the Corbeled Tomb in Newgrange, Ireland, the Menhir Alignments in Menac, Carnec and Stonehedge in Wiltshire, England.
“Woman from Willendorf “ was created during the Upper Paleolithic period. She is made of limestone, and her navel is believed to be a natural marking on the stone. Which leads one to believe that the artist who created her, actually looked for a stone that already had the indention already in the right location on the stone. Which is proof that the people during that time were somewhat intelligent. She is believed to be a symbol of fertility. Again, this is proof of understanding the woman’s ability to reproduce.
“Hall of Bulls” in Lascaux, France, are the best known cave paintings. They were also created during the Paleolithic Period. It is believed that since men were nomads during this time period, that the paintings may have been started by one group of people and later finished by new people who entered the caves. One scene in the cave seems to tell a story. Which could be one of the first ways of communication. The Lascaux artists also used the natural shapes of the caves to determine the location of certain animal body parts. Knicks in the cave walls suggest that scaffolding were built to be able to paint the beautiful paintings on the ceilings. This proves the thinking and effort that was put into creating these works of art. Again, art shows the intelligence of the people who created these paintings. So, they were very imaginative.
Later in the Neolithic Period, we begin to see man becoming settled. So, the type of art and location of art begins to change. Man begins to make items for the everyday use.. A tomb interior with corbeling (layers of stones filled with mud or sod) and engraved stone in New Grange, Ireland is a great example of this. It originally stood 44 feet tall. They were used to honor the dead, and to show group identity.
Menhirs were also used during this time. Menhirs were placed in alignments or cromlechs. In Menec, Carnec, more than 3,000 menhirs still stand in 2-mile lines. It is believed that the alignments are in some connection with the movement of the sun. Which for the new idea of being settled in the Neolithic time, would have been ideal for farming. They would be able to use it almost as a calendar.
Another great monument using stone during the Neolithic period, is StoneHedge. Stonehenge uses the post and lintel construction. The builders of Stonehenge also used mortise and tendon joints to secure the lintel sections. Which shows the advancement in mans carpentry skills. Again, it is believed that it was used as some sort of calendar. It also shows the idea of man protecting his property by creating an embankment around his monument.
Each of these wonderful masterpieces contributes to the evolvement of man. Little by little, man becomes a little more advance, and we began to see these changes in the art they created. I understand a lot more about the caveman and how we became what we are today. I found it interesting that even in a time when survival was the main concern, that man still found the time and effort to create art. I guess art is a necessity of life.