Home Forums What do the pictures mean? What do the pictures mean?

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    • #5746
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

      No one really knows why humans began to paint images or carve likenesses. What role did they play in prehistoric people’s lives? What was their function? Speculate as to some of the reasons humans started to create representational imagery.

    • #5889
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Since we know that the purpose of these pictures and figures was not to be seen as artwork that slightly narrows down their function. To me a few functions stood out more than others, as mentioned, they could serve as teaching tools, there was no common written language at the the time so the figures and pictures could have been used to teach, or tell stories, especially to pass down over the generations. Their function also could have been seen as a way to communicate, notably with themselves, but perhaps with other people passing through the area, after all their was no guarantee of a common language, so figures or pictures would be a good way to communicate. Perhaps the paintings in particular were also used as landmarks, to serve as a map in some ways. There is also the spiritual function, the imagery could have been used in rituals or for worship. So there are many possible functions. I think these images and figures must have played a very important role in prehistoric people’s lives because they clearly spent a lot of time creating these works of art, it would not have been an easy task to create figures and paintings, especially with such attention to detail. Given the amount of time that must have went into planning these creations and in some cases passing down the task over decades, these pieces were obviously very significant to the prehistoric people.

      • #6028
        ckocsis
        Participant

        I didn’t even think that they could have been used as a sort of map, that’s really interesting. But I definitely agree that they were very significant to prehistoric people because the amount of effort put into making them is crazy.

        • #6331
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Right on! You packed a lot of good points into this post.

      • #6118
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        Kaitlyn:
        I really appreciated your thoughts about the art in the caves. I had not considered that the images may have served to provide information to others who came later. Nomadic hunters could definitely understand that there were animals in the area. Thinking of these images as informational signposts is another possible reason for their existence, beyond art for art’s sake.

    • #5936
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      I think it is likely that the prehistoric people were using these images/sculptures as teaching tools as well as communication with other people. Also, I think it is in the heart of people to ‘make things in their own image’. We naturally want to replicate what we are.. Perhaps because we understand ourselves more than other things in the world. I’m sure these prehistoric people had a similar desire to be creative and expressive. Also, we naturally want to replicate things that are beautiful. The hyper curvy women that are constantly carved/painted were likely made to appreciate the beautiful form of a woman as well as place an emphasis on the importance of fertility. Also, I am sure there was an element of wanting to tell stories– there are tons of paintings that depict religious ceremonies and hunts and such. These people were simply telling their story in the way they could.

      • #6034
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To aastogsdill
        I agree with your statement of how images and sculptures were most likely used as teaching tools. Kinship was very important in prehistoric time, making it necessary to pass along knowledge such as reproduction, hunting, and eventually identity. Great job.

      • #6045
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Aastogsdill,

        I didn’t even think to view these images as teaching tools – I think that is an awesome concept and makes a lot of sense looking back at it. I agree with all your points as well. The desire to create something after ourselves (as a people) is an excellent point along with the fact that we really, truly, only understand ourselves (and even that can be a stretch sometimes). Great points!

      • #6094
        Celina Batchelder
        Participant

        Aubri,

        I find it interesting that you think the sculptures depicting women were symbolistic of fertility and beauty found in curviness. I wonder if there is any other historical context from this time that supports this statement. I do agree with you that they were used as teaching tools. I can imagine that they were also used to tell stories, perhaps to children, to warn them and enlighten them much like the stories we tell today, ex. the boy who cried wolf, etc., are used today.

        • #6127
          csayreswoody
          Participant

          i too believe that the cravings ans sculptures where use to tell a story and communicate with each other. It was preparing the children and adults for the matter to have a imagination of some sort.

          • #6332
            jlchamberlain
            Keymaster

            Yes, there is a lot of evidence that many of the female figures of this time period depict fertility. The exaggerated body parts indicate their importance.

      • #6110
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Aubri, do you think in some way the people in prehistoric times may have known that their artwork would be found by groups of people they hadn’t met? We can understand today that some of our current works of art can be found decades from now in the future. Do you think there may be a chance they would have had a similar idea, and left some of these stories for us to find and learn from?
        I really like that you mentioned people naturally want to recreate things we see as beautiful. We know that they created a lot of curvy women, but they also created a lot of bison through carvings and paintings. Maybe they believed that bison were some of the more beautiful animals.

        • #6333
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          What else do you think these images and object teach? Think about hunting and gathering, food sources, reproduction, etc.

    • #5958
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      Although art historians can only speculate on the possible purposes of prehistoric carvings and paintings, there are many plausible theories. For instance, the “Venus of Willendorf’ could have been a fertility statue. It is known that humans of this time were able to assign symbolic meanings to things, so this carving, along with the other similar statues of voluptuous women, may have indeed been symbols meant to bring good luck to women trying to conceive.
      The cave paintings may have been intended as sites for religious rituals. Most ‘art’ of this time had a distinct purpose and was not merely made for aesthetic value as it is now. This means that the cave paintings were likely apart of something larger within the culture. The cave art often features animals and hunters, which aligns with what occupied humans’ lives at the time. Perhaps they began this artwork to perform rituals for good luck before big hunts. Or perhaps they felt the human urge that many feel now to leave their mark on the world. Regardless of their intentions, leaving their mark on the world is exactly what they did.

      • #6036
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Laura Barber
        Good idea mentioning the theories about what prehistoric pieces mean. Without written text, we have no knowledge what they were used for. But without much doubt we can assume that there’s meaning. Great statements and references.

      • #6079
        Valene
        Participant

        I have to agree that the Nude Venus sculpture definitely seems to be related to fertility and possibly good luck for conceiving. I would imagine women were revered for their child bearing attributes in a society where surviving childbirth and continuing the species was more important than it seems today. I don’t know the size of the tribes that made these sculptures but as there was only one sculpture found I would think this was not a huge group of people so having children and continuing the tribes lineage would be a very important part of their lives.

    • #5972
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      What do pictures mean?

    • #6027
      ckocsis
      Participant

      I think that the pictures and figurines likely had a ritual purpose or some other cultural significance. They may have been used as teaching tools, but I feel like that is less likely, especially in examples like the lion man statue. As mentioned in the lecture, prehistoric art wasn’t just art for the sake of art, it had a purpose, and I think that many of the pictures and figurines were made to help with things those cultures valued. The Venus of Willendorf, for example, was probably made to aid fertility, while the cave paintings may have been to help bring more animals around and help with successful hunting.
      I also think the idea that some of these objects/paintings were used for communication is also likely as there was no written language at the time. The cave paintings could have been to indicate that there are lots of animals in the area or that that certain group of people were particular good at hunting. This would make sense because early written languages are basically simplified pictures, so these images could be the beginnings of that.

      • #6056
        Aubri Stogsdill
        Participant

        To Miranda Jackovich:

        I like the point you made about people needing to develop an understanding about their surroundings. I hadn’t thought of it that way!

      • #6093
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        ckocsis –
        I like what you say about the cave art being used for communication purposes, and referring to the fact that there was no written language like we have today. That makes me think about hieroglyphics, and how these are basically images used for communication purposes. It is difficult to say just exactly what the purpose of the various art was, but I am sure that it was not just out of boredom. But what do I know? Maybe it was for pass-time storytelling, or teaching children and young adults about the environment around them.

    • #6033
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      There is a wide range of what role images and carvings played in prehistoric people’s lives. The creations could be meant as a teaching tool, or possibly a story. “The Woman of Willendorf’ is believed to be a generic representation of women. “The Woman from Dolni Vestonice’ is another piece with generalized facial features. I believe that when populations grew in prehistoric times it caused a need for humans to identify and understand our surroundings. When small bands and tribes started interacting, they possibly used symbols to identify themselves.

      • #6123
        Kaylyn Kelly
        Participant

        Miranda,
        I also believe that prehistoric art was a beneficial form of communication for individuals. It was used as a teaching tool and also a way to tell stories. I also liked your comment about tribes having symbols to communicate with one another. I never thought of it that way but now that you said it I could see that being a beneficial form of art.

      • #6131
        Aalieyah Creach
        Participant

        Miranda,

        I didn’t think of the sculptures to be used as a way for people in the prehistoric era to identify themselves. That is interesting to think that the statues could have been used to even symbolize a tribe. It is fascinating how much meaning a piece of art can hold.

    • #6039
      Maggie May
      Participant

      I believe that humans have an inherent impulse to make art which commemorates their life experiences, whether it’s big events or day-to-day events, that communicates concepts symbolically, and/or adds value to the items and objects around them. Art played a variety of roles in the lives of prehistoric peoples, from documenting and honoring their beliefs (potentially LION-HUMAN) to symbolizing and communicating the attitudes of their societies to others (WOMAN OF WILLENDORF), to more practical applications like providing a valuable and meaningful place to bury their dead (like NEWGRANGE). Art was how prehistoric peoples communicated and documented their experiences. It was not a separate practice as it is in modern times, but rather a facet of the way prehistoric peoples experienced the world.

      • #6095
        Celina Batchelder
        Participant

        Hi Maggie,

        I agree that art, especially during the prehistoric time frame, was used to communicate life events, stories and lessons. Perhaps they held cultural significance as well, playing a part in rituals and other potentially spiritual activities. Thank you for your input.

      • #6153
        Allie Eby
        Participant

        Hi Maggie, I really like your point about how art may just have been a facet of prehistoric people’s lives an identity without being a separate practice. I would say that while art as a career is its own independent thing, I would also argue that art is still something that is integral to how many people experience the world. For example, all children – both those who do and do not want to become artists – draw pictures describing their lives and loved ones, and want to share these with each other, their families and the world. I think in some ways, people have always been people, including our innate relationship to art.

    • #6042
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      Today art is a way of expressing abstract feelings and I like to think back then was no different, however, they had other reasons for the creation of their art as well. Intentionally or not, I think it was their way of starting their own history – not necessarily with the intention of reaching us someday, but instead to keep within their people and families. Aside from that I think their art was for ritual purposes and storytelling (which was stated in the wings of the museum a couple times). I believe most of their representative imagery was used for historical and storytelling aspects whereas the symbolic arts were used in a much more spiritual manner which is why I think we cannot understand those ones today (for example, the symbols present in Newgrange or Stonehenge itself).

      • #6111
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Lucas, I like that you think their art was a way of starting their history. I tried asking in another reply if there might have been a chance that they did have the intention of reaching a future audience, similar to how some people are today (of course, I didn’t know how to word it as nicely as you had when I tried mentioning it). I also really like the end of your post — Stonehenge and Newgrange may be harder for us to understand because the spiritual manner that they were created in no longer exists for us to learn from today. If they had followed different religions that we don’t have much information on, a lot of these arts could have completely different meanings than what our ideas suggest.

    • #6053
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      To begin to speculate about the intention of artists from thousands of years ago is very challenging filled with potential missteps. I think about how hard it is for humans to interrupt and agree on events that have happened in the last several hundred years. We still disagree on the nature of the event, even with our modern communication tools and written languages. Magnify those same problems over 15,000 years and you can begin to see how fragile our interpretations may actually be.
      Given my modern biases and limits of my imagination, I can only speculate as to the meanings of these artifacts. I think that both the “Woman of Willendorf’ and the “Woman from Dolni Vestonice are meant to either admire the maternal image or to act as talismans to promote fertility. The Lion-Human image represents a person who shared characteristics with those of a lion. Was he strong and powerful or someone to be feared, we will never know. I see this as a reverse anthropomorphizing of a human, animal traits given to a human.
      The cave art is absolutely meant to be preserved and viewed by others in the future. Given the transient nature of their shelters and the lack of permanence for their artistic materials, caves represented the only structure available to preserve their images. Could these caves have been the first art museums? Images of the world around them to be displayed and preserved.

      • #6096
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Bob —
        I completely agree with you that it is a great challenge to try to comprehend the true intentions and purposes of prehistoric art. It is important to realize that any interpretations of the art is just that, interpretations and not facts. I do like your speculations on the figurines of women, especially the maternal component. Being that survival probably was of utter importance, and being fertile was sought for, the maternal components of women was probably valued. I love that you speculate that the caves may have been the first art museums, that gives them a sort of charm.

      • #6335
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great discussion! I too wonder if the people that created these works thought about who might encounter them in the future or if there was any thought put into the future existence of these pieces? Interesting thoughts here!

    • #6058
      Erica Kingkade
      Participant

      I think that as humans evolved they used art to communicate or document their lives and beliefs. Some of the pieces created served a more functional purpose such as the early ceramic bowls that were used in ceremonies. Other pieces were used to pay homage to their ancestors and their beliefs as evident in the houses in ÇATALHÖYÜK. Early cave paintings that depict hunting could have been used to tell a story or help teach future generations of the traditions used when hunting.

      In response to Bob Hook’s posting. I agree with your caution on interpretations of early art given human nature to disagree. The contrast you pointed out on each piece was very thoughtful. As for the thought that caves could have been the first art museums, I would more likely suspect they were just the most stable structures that humans could inhabit/defend at the time.

    • #6062
      Allie Eby
      Participant

      I think it would be safe to say that the function of most prehistoric art was greatly dependent on the context of its creation, which we as modern humans unfortunately have little to no way of knowing. I personally believe that creativity, imagination and the resulting desire to create and innovate are inherent human characteristics, and have been since the evolution of modern humanity (and perhaps even before that within communities such as the Neanderthals). To me, it seems very likely that some of the works like the Lion Man were used as representations of a character or deity for the purposes of storytelling. I think that these stories could have been spiritual, moral or even purely creative in nature. However, other works such as the bison relief sculptures and illustrative cave paintings could have served as educational tools, perhaps as models to indicate to young hunters what they were hunting and where on the animal to strike, etc.. It is even possible to me that some of the female figurines are not deific or spiritual, but in fact could serve as extremely early examples of pornography. Again, without proper context, it is very difficult for anyone to know for sure.

      • #6074
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        I agree with your idea that the early carvings of female figures may have been pornography. All of the most womany features are exaggerated, like in modern anime porn, or girls who get implants to appear more attractive in liveaction porn. I do find something confusing though. In the article about the Turkish civilization that buried their dead under their plaster homes, there was a white stone carving of a woman. The article described her as possibly representative of a wealthy older woman who was esteemed, ‘older’ because her round figure indicated that she no longer had to do physical labor. Was the Venus of Willendorf an old lady? Or did the culture who carved it have a standard of beauty that held being round in high regard – possibly because your husband was a good hunter?

    • #6070
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Some of the posts mentioned the female figurines may have been meant to act as talismans or other kind of good luck charms to promote fertility and I hadn’t even thought of that possibility! How interesting, that is a really good suggestion of what the figures mean.

      • #6336
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Interesting posts! I think that these points are worth exploring but your later comments in this post are the most accurate.

    • #6071
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Aeby2,
      I definitely have to agree with you, it is really hard to even begin to speculate what all these images could have meant without the context behind them. I really like your point that humans have an inherent desire to be creative and create art, and you had great examples of what the different pieces could have meant!

    • #6072
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      Wild adult animals don’t have a lot of time for play, but domesticated animals keep playing far past their infancy. Humans developed larger brains as they relied on socializing to survive cooperatively, and developed the ability to conceive of a ‘future’ to stay prepared for. I think cooperation and the related surge in brain size gave us free time and imagination, that maybe part of the development of art was the domestication of the wild human – we could play far past infancy. Religion naturally developed along with our ability to imagine connections and spontaneously create symbols.

      I also wonder if prehistoric people were like us in that it’s not everyone who can create great art. Were the artists of the tribe seen as special like shamans? Were they fed and housed by their patron tribe, with understanding that what they did was as important as going out to hunt?

      Seeing the Venus of Willendorf reminded me of an idea I’d run across years ago, by Professor Leroy McDermott that the fertility carvings were actually self portraits by women. There’s a few photosets out there that show how forshortening works when a woman is looking down at her own body. Here’s a link to one article about it:

      https://busy.org/@deeallen/self-portraits-of-fertility-symbols-venus-figurines-of-upper-paleolithic-eurasia-nudity

      The article also points out some reasons why this idea may be wrong – but when asked to answer why these sculptures were made, I thought of modern selfies. The Venus carvings make me think of how men are very visually stimulated, and tend to ask girls to ‘send them nudes.’ If these sculptures were self portraits, I imagine they’d be gifts to hot boys.

      The images on the cave walls were all of the most important food-source to the artists during the ice age. Except for earlier art in Africa, plants wouldn’t be depicted until after the adoption of agriculture. Here’s a link to the African plant art:

      https://africanrockart.org/news/trees-rock-art/

      People made permanent art of fluctuating food sources. I imagine a prehistoric person would get a lot of comfort from visiting the cave during a ritual, if he could see a reminder that the seasonal animals were coming back. It makes sense that early religion would involve visiting a pair of perpetually mating bison in a womb-like cave, to know that the animals would breed to create more food for you and the baby you’re trying to conceive. Consuming the blood and body of Christ makes sense in this way, if Jesus is the cyclical resurrection god.

      God forming Adam from clay came to mind when reading about the sculptor that visited the cave of the two bison.

      • #6077
        Valene
        Participant

        Raven, I love your comparison of the Venus nude sculpture to prehistoric selfies and had to chuckle when I read what you wrote. The more I think about the small arms on the breast and the looking down from the top of the figure I can totally see how that could be viewed as a self portrait. I think nudity in general was fairly widespread in ancient times since clothes would be difficult to make and possibly unnecessary in certain areas, so the being nude might have just been how everyone looked, but the idea of the figure being made for hot boys was an amusing and interesting idea.

        • #6337
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Great post Raven! Thanks for adding in those links, its always nice to add content to the forum.

    • #6076
      Valene
      Participant

      Although we don’t know what caused people to paint images or carve likenesses. We do know these prehistoric people were humans, just like us and as such they would have likely had some people with artist capabilities who might be given the job of crafting gifts or children toys. They might also just be people who tried to pass on their traditions and knowledge through art and drawings. Assuming the language was very different than now, the only way to communicate might have been through drawings and exhibiting what one people’s groups thought. The lion man video also brought up a great point in how 85% of current world populations have some sort of belief system and I’m assuming prehistoric people groups likely had an even higher percentage of spiritual beliefs. Those beliefs likely influenced their art and maybe led some of the art pieces to be gods that they chose to worship.

    • #6082
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      I have always thought that art, of any kind, was in part a way to think about the artist’s place in the world. Not only to record it, as a means to communicate or retell the story of their life but also to help them understand the life/way of life, especially for those that lacked an understanding of the world as a whole. For example, a cave painting of a hunting scene not only records a great hunt, maybe to record it as a way to retell it but also how the hunter interacts with the world and how small he is in the scheme of things. Even though the artists had no way of knowing just how the big the world was, they had to understand how fragile their place in it was, how easily they could become ill or injured and die.

      I think the art speaks of the amazement the people of the time had for their environment. People do not care to record something that is underwhelming but the things that amaze them. Who takes a picture of a grey and dreary cloud-covered day? No, most people take a picture of an awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset. Or a moose standing in their front yard. We want to record those things that inspire and amaze us and I feel it would have been the same for the earliest of artists.

    • #6084
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      No one really knows why humans began to paint images or carve likenesses. What role did they play in prehistoric people’s lives? What was their function? Speculate as to some of the reasons humans started to create representational imagery.

      This is an interesting thing to ponder. I came from two very creative people, that still maybe don’t even realize how artistic they truly are. I can watch them turn every doing into art, without any awareness or reasoning behind it. I think they make beautiful things because it brings their being peace. For example, my father, who has spent his entire life working and providing, since teenhood, just made a toilet for an RV. This receptacle is beyond beautiful, hands down, my most favorite toilet i’ve ever seen and not out of necessity, a hole in the floor would suffice. Maybe creation with our own hands heals the pieces inside us that may be falling apart. Maybe its less about function and more about proving that we can create beauty when we feel less than beautiful. Maybe these prehistoric people just wanted to prove to themselves that they can possess beauty.
      But how did it start? I imagine people have drawn in the dirt and sand since the beginning, as a form of communicating and telling stories and strategies. The things in which we place value differ greatly from person to person. where one person may have communicated how they slayed a fish, the next may have communicated the look on a persons face right before they cried. Maybe there was beauty in both and they found a way to establish more permanence for “retelling” purposes. Maybe those became fixtures in homes, for “function” but maybe they found enjoyment in being able to see them as well.
      I suppose I have a difficult time disconnecting my own being from these people. I do believe they had emotion and heart, and maybe they just wanted beauty.

      • #6109
        Dean Riley
        Participant

        I think you are right on the mark with your comments. An unadorned bowl and a decorated one are both fully functional, but the decorated one probably brought someone “extra” to the ceremony. Why live with “drab” when you can live with “fab”!

        • #6338
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Great post! I love that you bring up the concepts of permanence, story telling and function. These are all really important topics to consider when studying these works and help us to speculate about how and why they were created.

    • #6092
      Celina Batchelder
      Participant

      Representational imagery, I believe, was largely created to tell a story. We can speculate all day, every day on why these depictions were created, but in the simplest sense, it would be beneficial to view why we create these everyday representations of things from life today. This could be to tell a story, to create symbolism, or urge viewers to reflect on something from life. Language has never truly been universal, and while we can draw conclusions based on carved stone, manuscripts, etc., we will never truly know or understand the language they used in the stone, bronze and iron ages aside from the remaining objects left behind that we can then piece together to form our own narrative. Imagery, however, is arguably universal – for example, with the Woman of Willendorf, we have no issue today deciding that what is depicted is a woman. This argument can also be tied to the cave paintings, that they depict animals. I found it interesting that they found a child’s fingerprint on one of the other sculptures depicting a woman- it makes me wonder if this was created in the same fashion that dolls were created for today.

    • #6100
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      It is difficult to interpret the true intentions of the various art pieces from the Prehistoric eras. And while reading about different theories, I think it is important to remember that they are just that: theories and not facts. With this in mind, I do like the idea that some art was used to teaching and communication, while some other art has been used for ritualistic intentions. The Pitt Rivers Museum writes, “Because art is a means of communicating human experiences, human bodies are naturally depicted.” I’m not too much of a fan about the Museum stating that art is just for communicating human experiences, because I think that art is broader than that, but it does make sense that human bodies would be depicted for this purpose. I do think that possibly some of the depictions of humans were for representing or even admiring the human form, especially those that were attractive. Like the Woman of Willendorf, this figurine seems to place emphasis on the more desirable attributes of a woman. Or possibly what was deemed as desired during that time. It wouldn’t surprise me if the figurine had some spiritual or ritual significance, representing a deity of sorts.
      Although the cave paintings, such as the Lascaux Cave, seem to me to be more out of teaching purposes, such as story-telling or communication purposes.
      In short, maybe humans started to depict the human form out of attraction, educational purposes, communication, or even for rituals. Maybe this was a way of exploring the human identity and what about us that makes us “human.”

    • #6107
      tmbergan
      Participant

      I feel like some of the cave drawings could have been used as storytelling tools. Kids in our day have picture books to help them see what’s happening in the story that they’re listening to, so some of the cave drawings may have been used in similar ways. Think of the movie Brother Bear and how Kenai and Koda found the cave drawings with the animals and then the larger painting of the bear and man facing each other in a fight. A lot of them may have also been used in religious ways for rituals or they may have created some of the figures to worship or keep in hopes of promoting fertility. The Woman of Dolni Vestonice and Woman of Willendorf are all seen today as depictions of maturity and fertility, so perhaps people would have a carving like that in their home with hopes of being blessed by the goddess it represented. All of the art could have been teaching tools as well, whether they were trying to teach each other how to paint, carve, or work with clay, or they were trying to teach children what the animals were, how to hunt them, and where to find them.

    • #6108
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      While some things have changed throughout history, I don’t feel as if basic human nature has. Most, if not all, of early prehistoric art could be deemed as functional, but I feel human nature has not changed dramatically in the several thousand years since then. Humans in the modern age mark their property with their name or decorate their items to make them less plain. I do not think it is much is a reach to think that prehistoric humans might have etched lines such as those on the piece of ocher from the Blombos Cave in South Africa to be able to distinguish their property from someone elses. It could also very well have been a sign of social status to have decorated items versus unadorned items. Religious imagery also played a large role in their art. There lives revolved around animals. They needed them for survival. It would make sense that they would document the main reason for their survival on cave walls.

    • #6113
      Aaron Topkok
      Participant

      I feel like the artworks of the prehistoric era has the same role and function as does art today. We want to preserve what we feel like is important to us and so we made art out of it. Also with the creation of art we get to see what people like. Since art is something that can last a long time we can see and value the art from people long ago. As we know, people aren’t happy with bland, boring stuff. People want to add flare, and colors. Life is too boring without art or design.

    • #6121
      Kaylyn Kelly
      Participant

      Today, pictures and art have a different kind of meaning then back in the prehistoric era. In the prehistoric era art could of had many roles to help the people with life events. The art of our generation is about expressing creative feelings and emotions but the prehistoric area had more meaning behind it in my eyes. The purpose of the art could be for communication because there was no language at the time and communication was not as easy as it is now. Being able to paint images for individuals would be able to help with teaching life lessons. Stories could also be told from the art and it could be passed on from generation to generation. In the prehistoric area people could also mark places they have been with art work. This could help them mark territory, warn others, and mark where they have been to remember how to come back if traveling. It could be used to map their surroundings. Art had a different purpose in my eyes back in the prehistoric area. There are still similarities with todays art and prehistoric art but there is still a big difference in the both.

      • #6339
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I agree, but why would this be important to prehistoric civilizations? Can you elaborate with some examples and speculate as to why these figures and images are more realistic or the objects more functional?

    • #6128
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      i feel the paintings and cravings played a major role in the lives of people in the prehistoric period. the artist was reminding the people of what they have and can have. it also was a way of showing what type of things interested them. i also believe that the cravings were a way to tell stories back than and to communicate. i to this day see artist using the methods that prehistoric artist use back than with little to no difference.

      • #6132
        Aalieyah Creach
        Participant

        I agree that the prehistoric art was used to tell stories and inform people of the things they had in the past. The images captured in the caves where done with some of the techniques some artist still use now a days. From the brush strokes to the clay sculpting it all shows some type of familiarity that we’ve seen in many different forms of art.

        • #6341
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Can you elaborate and provide some examples to support your point? Revisit the initial discussion post to add to what you have here.

      • #6340
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        You bring up some goof topics, can you elaborate with some examples?

    • #6130
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      The prehistoric pictures seem to be representing what the artist saw around them most of the time. Besides the lion-man. Animals were a big part of everyday life and documenting them through art seemed to be a big thing to be drawn or painted in the prehistoric period. Since majority of the details given on the pictures when clicked on talked about how there were children present, that makes you think that maybe the artist was creating this art for them. Now the sculptures of the women could have been have been a representation of a woman’s body after birth, or just their figures in general, however, that is what I took from observing the sculptures.

      • #6342
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I would say that more than providing information about the past, these images and objects were more functional and utilitarian, providing information for survival, rituals, and to tell stories pertinent to the culture.

    • #6136
      Jess
      Participant

      When I look at these paintings and sculptures and then get asked “What do the pictures mean,” I am immediately drawn to the conclusion that they were created as a way for the people of that time period to share what they saw and experienced. It was a way for them to preserve their history and tell a story. It also could be a representation of what they thought was important enough to create an image of it. For instance, there were multiple sculptures of women and that leads me to believe that they held women to a certain standard and they may have created the sculptures to show future generations what a women in that era may look like. There was also a lot of cave drawings, paintings, of animals and even a sculpture of a lion standing as though it were a man. This sculpture could mean that in that time period, they viewed animals to be just as important as man and that maybe there was a type of connection to one another. It could also be their interpretation of being reincarnated from a man to an animal such as a lion. There are many different ways we can interpret these pictures but we will never truly know the true intention behind their creation.

      • #6151
        Tamara Toy
        Participant

        Jess,
        I really do like your point about the Lion Man sculpture. That makes a lot of sense that the reason that it was standing as a man, but with the features of a lion as a way to say that the artist saw these two somewhat as equals. That really makes me think about how we attempt to decide on the meaning of art but it really is subjective, as we, the viewers, have no idea what the artist’s intentions or inspiration had been. I think that effort is a by-product of modern life because we can research most modern artists to find their muse, but when it comes to prehistoric art it really becomes so much more difficult. Was it because they didn’t understand something? Maybe they had seen a deformed lion, so this piece was a means to try and understand what they had witnessed. Maybe it was meant as a toy for a child or used to represent a part of a story. The possibilities are endless but as you stated, we will never know their intentions, sadly.

    • #6138
      Gabe
      Participant

      Hey I’m not sure if this is late or not… The Week 2 page says January 26, so I’m a little confused.

      I think that humans probably first created representational images out of play or boredom, the way that a child left with a sandpit might draw designs it it. Once some techniques were developed though, I’d imagine they would immediately fill numerous roles in ancient people’s lives. Immediately I think of how useful images would be for storytelling, fleshing out a recount of experiences and preserving them for the future. Another probable use would be to create idols of different aspects of the world and nature like the cave representations of animals. A human could interact with these idols in lieu of the actual thing which might be dangerous or want to run away. I can imagine any number of spiritual rituals and practices that could revolve around these idols, something which continues today!

    • #6141
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      These pictures can have many different purposes. I believe that most understand the likelihood that these pictures were intended to record history and teach. They could also be used as a sort of message board for others that follow. There is a lot of discussion that these pictures have spiritual meaning as well which makes sense to me. A primitive culture would be primarily concerned with survival. In the case of prehistoric man hunting was a primary means of subsistence living and it makes sense that they would find respect and spirituality in the animals they hunt. The sculptures of women could actually be exaggerated on purpose not just to show fertility, but possibly to make them more distinguished and easily recognizable as a woman versus a man.

      • #6343
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        No worries! Sorry about the dates, I have gone back in to check that all the dates match and are correct now. Good point you bring up in this post. Can you give some examples to help support your post? Do you think that the simplicity could also be due to the fact that some of these works were done more out of utility?

    • #6145
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      What has been speculated is that the function of these art pieces in the prehistoric lives was spiritual, or sacrificial. These humans lived within nature, and experienced their connection with animals in a much different way that we modern humans connect with animals. We can see that in the Lion-man, which has much intimacy between the strength and connection and respect these people had for the animals around them. And during that time, I’m sure fertility was of utmost importance and imperative to their survival. The art pieces they created were a testament of that importance, a way to display their emotional connection to continuing their familial line. Even they had a deep connection to their ancestors. The representational imagery may have just been a way to unwind and enjoy peaceful times, as many tribes were nomadic or busy fighting for their survival. It’s a testament that they, too, had leisure time that was deeply valued.

    • #6146
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Kaitlyn
      Ah yes, I forgot to mention that in my post, glad you pointed it out– that they are used as teaching tools. It was a way to pass down their culture and beliefs. And how wonderful that it is still teaching us to this day! I agree that it was a way to have introspection. A way to compartmentalize their world around them as they perceive it.

      RE: Aubri Stogsdill
      Like you mentioned that it was used for communication with other people, it makes me wonder if they at all intended for future generations like us to be communicated with. I wonder if they thought about that at all. Oh, I love that you pointed out that we like to recreate what we perceive as beautiful. It’s so true. You can absolutely tell what kind of respect they had in these subjective figurines and sculptures. I enjoyed your response.

    • #6157
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      I think humans have been obsessed with image and appearances from the very beginning. Beauty, youth, a loved one’s visage; all of these are worth preserving. Also, more practically, images could be used to tell stories about loved ones who were not present or who had died to younger children. Whatever the specific reason of any given picture, capturing a subject eternally and out of the hunger grasp of time seems a common human desire throughout history.

      • #6161
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Rdnelson4:
        You make some great points! Humans are highly visual creatures and this certainly fuels our desire to create art. I love your point about it being a way of preserving the things we love.

        • #6344
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Good point you bring up here, can you elaborate and provide some example to support what you are discussing?

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