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Cave Art Mural Assignment For Kids

Why did Cro-Magnon man cover the walls and ceilings of hidden caves with paintings by many different people?  Was it bragging; was it to appease the gods?  Was it to aid in hunting or teaching?  We just don't know.

How did they find these caves?  They painted in the same caves, so they must have known where they were.  The land around these caves was hard to reach.  Yet, Cro-Magnon painters sought out these caves.  The entrances to the stone caves were narrow, cramped, and tight.  The painters had to crawl or squirm through them to get to the large natural chambers in the cave where they painted their pictures.  The painters had to bring their light (a torch or spoon lamp) and their paints, while crawling.  But nothing seemed to stop them.  It must have been very important to these early people to add their art to the art already in the cave.

The painting done by early man was not done in charcoal, but in naturally occurring pigments such as red (iron oxide) or black (manganese).  The animals were drawn with attention to detail, but the people were usually stick figures.  Many of these early man artists also drew outlines of their hands.  Was this a way of signing their art?  To see some of this early man cave art, click here!

Interestingly enough, these caves and their paintings were not found by archeologists.  The first caves with cave paintings were found in France.  Some children, playing in the woods, discovered the entrance to a cave, long forgotten.  The entrance was hidden by a tree.  Once the first cave had been found, and its importance realized, people started looking for more caves and found them.  It is very likely that more caves with more cave paintings are still waiting to be found.

The Cave at Lascaux, France

Virtual Tour of Cave Paintings

Prehistoric Art, Cave Paintings (Presentations)

Early Humans Q&A Quiz Interactive

Red Cow & First Chinese Horse

Photograph N. Aujoulat (2003) © MCC-CNP

Sections have been identified in the cave; the Great Hall of the Bulls, the Lateral Passage, the Shaft of the Dead Man, the Chamber of Engravings, the Painted Gallery, and the Chamber of Felines. The cave contains nearly 2,000 figures, which can be grouped into three main categories - animals, human figures and abstract signs. Most of the major images have been painted onto the walls using mineral pigments although some designs have also been incised into the stone.

Of the animals, equines predominate [364]. There are 90 paintings of stags. Also represented are cattle, bison, felines, a bird, a bear, a rhinoceros, and a human. Among the most famous images are four huge, black bulls or aurochs in the Hall of the Bulls. One of the bulls is 17 feet (5.2 m) long - the largest animal discovered so far in cave art.

Great Black Bull

Photograph N. Aujoulat (2003) © MCC-CNP

Additionally, the bulls appear to be in motion. There are no images of reindeer, even though that was the principal source of food for the artists. A painting referred to as 'The Crossed Bison', found in the chamber called the Nave, is often held as an example of the skill of the Palaeolithic cave painters. The crossed hind legs show the ability to use perspective. Since the year 2000, Lascaux has been beset with a fungus, variously blamed on a new air conditioning system that was installed in the caves, the use of high-powered lights, and the presence of too many visitors. As of 2006, the situation became even graver - the cave saw the growth of black mold. In January 2008, authorities closed the cave for three months, even to scientists and preservationists. A single individual was allowed to enter the cave for 20 minutes once a week to monitor climatic conditions.

→ Lascaux Cave Introduction
→ Lascaux Cave Paintings Symposium | Page | 1 | 2 |
→ Lascaux Cave Symposium Conclusions
→ Lascaux Cave Symposium Results
→ Lascaux Cave Paintings - The Future


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