Rock art
October 27, 2002 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Rock art can be found throughout the world. Capturing a glimpse of the creativity of our ancestors can be excting and the focal point of a memorable trip. Find some great sites in Europe, Australia, The U.S. southwest or upper midwest. Housebound? Then take a virtual tour of the magnificent Chauvet Cave in France.
posted by madamjujujive (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ajanta caves from Maharashtra, India are very impressive, the colours are still very rich, the mother of pearl used still shines.
posted by riffola at 8:57 AM on October 27, 2002

Great post. I've been exploring two of these links for the last half an hour and it looks as though I will be enthralled for a good while.
posted by ae4rv at 8:59 AM on October 27, 2002

gorgeous stuff! thanks!

Has anyone ever found images of more prosaic stuff, like people cooking around a fire, or hanging out, or looking for berries, etc...?
posted by amberglow at 9:03 AM on October 27, 2002 [1 favorite]

I have very much enjoyed visiting Seminole Canyon in west Texas.
posted by gimonca at 9:09 AM on October 27, 2002

Here is an article by John Berger, one of the first people to visit Chauvet, about his impressions of what he found.
posted by homunculus at 10:38 AM on October 27, 2002

Some more rock art links here.
posted by languagehat at 11:46 AM on October 27, 2002

but this is just scrawling found on rocks. where's the rock art?
posted by quonsar at 12:47 PM on October 27, 2002

130 to 100 million years ago...

Sort of makes our Seventies/Eighties/Nineties/Nothingties thing seem a bit petty, doesn't it?
posted by Schweppes Girl at 1:53 PM on October 27, 2002

130 to 100 million years ago...

What was 100 million years ago? Surely not art created by humans! The art found in the Chauvet Cave in France is about 31,000 years old, and yes, that figure sure makes me think. What we consider ancient civilization is way closer to our time now than that.
posted by ae4rv at 2:04 PM on October 27, 2002

Interestingly, it seems our ancient ancestors might have been multimedia artists. Steven Waller of the American Rock Art Research Association believes that prehistoric artists deliberately chose sites with unusual acoustics for their paintings, and styled their artwork to reflect the sorts of sounds that could be mimicked using the acoustic properties of the location, such as hoofbeats or human voices. (Waller's rock art acoustics page, with some sound samples, is here.)
posted by taz at 11:53 PM on October 27, 2002

Rock art from Namibia.
posted by plep at 12:45 AM on October 28, 2002

Thanks for all the sites shared - the Ajanta Cave looks spectacular, but Seminole Cavern a little more in my geographical reach. Something that surprised me as I started learning about rock painting (and I am a neophyte) is how disperse the locations in which they can be found.

amberglow, here's a relatively obscure scene of paleolithic everyday life. ; )

taz, that acoustical info is too cool and makes some sense - I can envision storytelling gatherings. Thanks for sharing that!

plep, sadly, I understand some Namibian sites are endangered. There is also a site in the city of Albuquerque that was endangered by highway building. I visited it a few years ago, but haven't learned the recent status.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:20 AM on October 28, 2002

thanks hon!
I also want someone to find doodles, signed by "Ooigha" with a little heart over the "i", but I guess our ancestors doodled in the dirt and sand...oh well ; >
posted by amberglow at 6:33 AM on October 28, 2002

Something of a self-link, but I excavated at the Grottes d'Isturitz this summer, a 30000 year old Aurignacian cave site with some amazing art. In particular there was a tiny room only accessible by crawling on one's stomach (you couldn't even lift your head) that is covered entirely with red ochre. There was also another remote room that, when a wall was viewed from one angle, there was one giant horse carving, but from another angle, two smaller engraved horses. Anyone who can get a chance to visit any of these sites should. My personal favorite, however, is the Altamira complex.
posted by The Michael The at 7:22 AM on October 28, 2002

amberglow: Another scene of everyday life for you!
posted by languagehat at 9:48 AM on October 28, 2002

languagehat--pretty good, but they're the modern stone-age family!

I feel that if dinosaur footprints were preserved, and are still around after so many years, then there must be some prosaic or amateur early human stuff (not related to magic, or fertility or a good hunt, or the sun, etc....) around--after all, how and where did the really talented cave painters and drawers practice?
posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on October 28, 2002

you might be interested in boy of the painted cave! [ESL version] and the origin of writing :)

The true Origin of Writing can be found preserved in incredibly intricate glyphic re-markings, which were produced by humans as modifications to the natural (random) stone grain patterns readily visible on the surfaces of the stone artifacts which they regularly made. Originally: writing was formed from the techniques of materially-based production that were developed in the making of stone tools; and, writing developed within the contexts of association which are characteristic of vision.
posted by kliuless at 4:51 PM on October 28, 2002

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