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Upper Paleolithic Art. Upper Paleolithic Art. Mobile Small, can be moved from place to place or traded Parietal Paintings on cave walls Large carvings. Mobile Art. The European bison is one of the animals most commonly depicted in paleolithic art.

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Upper Paleolithic Art

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Upper paleolithic art

Upper Paleolithic Art

Upper paleolithic art1

Upper Paleolithic Art

  • Mobile

    • Small, can be moved from place to place or traded

  • Parietal

    • Paintings on cave walls

    • Large carvings

Mobile art

Mobile Art

  • The European bison is one of the animals most commonly depicted in paleolithic art.

  • These treatments in several media (sandstone, reindeer horn, clay, and limestone) illustrate the sophistication of paleolithic art.

  • Note the similar stylistic treatment of the mane and beard of the bull, which show that artististic conventions were passed from generation to generation.









  • This baton or staff, found at Mas-d'Azil, France, is particularly intriguing and almost demands interpretation.

  • This "baton" is of reindeer horn carved into the shapes of three horse heads--two live horses, either a mare and stallion or a colt and adult horse--and a flayed skull of a dead horse.

  • Is this a depiction of the highly abstract idea of the cycle of life from juvenile stage to death? The carving demands to be "read" and interpreted.

Venus figurines

Venus Figurines

  • Female statuettes, sometimes called "Venus" figurines, have been found at a number of European sites.

  • The female head at is rendered in a highly abstract style compared to animals

  • The plumpness and exaggerated sexual features of many of these figures, along with their faceless anonymity, suggest that they symbolize fertility.

Venus figurines1

Venus Figurines

Venus of Willendorf

Upper paleolithic art

  • The 18“ Venus figure (France, 22,000 to 30,000 years ago) holds what may be an incised bison horn.

  • Perhaps similar to the cornucopia, the "horn of plenty," of later European cultures.

Variation in figurines

Variation in Figurines

Upper paleolithic parietal art

Upper Paleolithic Parietal Art

  • Lascaux, France

  • Chauvet Cave, France

  • Altamira, Spain

    • All have elaborate paintings and engravings

    • Usually done along certain “themes”

      • ie. Altamira mostly bison

    • Not used for habitation-strictly ceremonial



  • Pigments such as charcoal, red ochre, yellow ochre commonly used.

  • Applied with animal hair brushes, fingers and/or blown through tube.

Upper paleolithic art

Distribution of Upper Paleolithic art

Thin dark blue line: coastline

Thick light blue (cyan) line: glaciation limits

Red tones: mural art

Green tones: portable art

Cave art chronology

Cave Art Chronology

The paleolithic cave paintings of lascaux ca 17 000 bp

The Paleolithic Cave Paintings of Lascaux (ca. 17,000 BP)

Great hall of bulls

Great Hall of Bulls

Great hall of bulls1

Great Hall of Bulls

Color black dominates the works. A few of the creatures are painted red.

Main gallery

Main Gallery

Panel of Back to Back Bison

Surrounding surface and style of work creates 3D effect

Main gallery1

Main Gallery

Panel of the Swimming Stags

Painted gallery

Painted Gallery

Stag at entrance

Bison towards back

Painted gallery1

Painted Gallery

“Chinese horse”

Shaft of the dead man

Shaft of the Dead Man

Axial gallery ibexes

Axial Gallery-Ibexes

Short clip of lascaux

Short Clip of Lascaux


Altamira spain ca 14 18 000 b p

Altamira, Spain (ca. 14-18,000 B.P.)

  • It is situated in Cantabria province not far from Santander city, on the edge of Santiliana del Mar village.

  • The cave was found by a local hunter, Modesto Peres in 1868.

  • Mostly bison

Altamira spain

Altamira, Spain



  • http://vm.kemsu.ru/en/palaeolith/alt-img2.html

Polychrome bison altamira

Polychrome Bison, Altamira

Altamira boar

Altamira, boar

Chauvet cave france ca 32 000 b p

Chauvet Cave, France (ca. 32,000 B.P.)

  • It is located in the steep side of a cliff in the gorges of the Ardeche, a tributary of the Rhone river.

  • The cave was discovered on the 18th of December 1994 by three speleologists - Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps and Christian Hillaire.

  • There is a succession of four big "vestibules" with about or more than 300 paintings. They are in a remarkable state of preservation. At present the paintings are the oldest known.


Upper paleolithic art


Chauvex entrance

Chauvex Entrance

Hyaena and panther

Hyaena and Panther


Bear skull on rock

Bear skull on rock


Owl in mud

Owl in mud


Bison with human legs

Bison with human legs


Panel of lions

Panel of Lions

Walking horse chauvet

Walking Horse, Chauvet

Rhinos chauvet

Rhinos, Chauvet

Upper paleolithic art

  • During their first explorations, the discoverers recognized two footprints that they identified as human: that of the left foot of a child, and a dynamic trace of the same.

  • These prints mark the beginning of a genuine trail leading from the back of the Gallery of Crosshatches to the entrance of the Chamber of the Skull.

  • Around this trail, we can observe more ancient traces of trampling by bears and the trail of a wolf.



  • The multiple burial from central Europe on right is 26,000 years old. The individual in the center of the burial had spinal scoliosis, an asymmetrical skull, and an under-developed right leg.

  • The male on the left has a stake driven into his hip; a larger male on the far right lies face down.

Upper paleolithic art

  • The painting reconstructs the burial of a mammoth hunter found at Predmosti in central Europe.

  • Red ochre is being scattered over the grave, which will be covered with a mammoth's shoulder blade and tusks.

Dolni vistonice

Dolni Vistonice

  • Gravettian site dated to about 25,000 years ago

  • The site is located on a ridge overlooking the Dyej River, Czech Republic

    • 200 by 500 feet

    • bones of over 100 mammoths were found in an area that measured 40 by 140 feet

    • rows of mammoth tusks formed a fence around the site

  • several houses

  • common central fire

  • material culture

    • 2,300 fired clay figurines

    • Gravettian tool assemblage

    • exotic artifacts

      • shell from Mediterranean


Mammoth bone house

Mammoth bone house




Painted mammoth skull at house entrance

Painted Mammoth Skull at house entrance


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