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Paleolithic and Neolithic Art and Life

Paleolithic period

To the present moment, it can be said for sure that the Paleolithic and Neolithic art and life were not uniform. Although during the Upper Paleolithic period, which was about 30-40 thousand years ago, human consciousness did not yet allow them to create genuine masterpieces, primitive people used walls, stones, and paints to express themselves. After that time, archaeologists were able to find many centers of the early creation of the Homo genus, but the Lascaux caves and Carnac megaliths deserve special attention.

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Located in the southern area of the country’s center, the French cave Lascaux has a notable dryness that prevents the formation of calcite deposits. By its historical heritage, the cave is called one of the unique museums of the late Paleolithic period, where colorful rock paintings are located. In general, the theme of the images sends the viewer back to the primitive art times, when the creators could draw only what surrounded them: bulls, horses, and bison. At this stage of development, a person could use colorful painting to give more realism to the images and resort to perspective distortion. The presence of mythical creatures should be noted, which can be interpreted either as an error in conservation or as the emergence of the fantasy development of man in the Paleolithic period.

Neolithic period

Another significant structure, the collection of megaliths in Carnac, refers to the later stages of development, namely the Neolithic. There are many opinions about the purpose of such a magnificent stone structure, and many of them are reduced to hypotheses of space exploration. Meanwhile, dolmens may have been used for agricultural purposes to enclose livestock and chickens, or as stoves. In any case, this example shows that the life of a Neolithic representative is characterized by more excellent development and the emergence of rational thought.

Given the above, it can be seen at least three differences between the described epochs. In the Neolithic, the human image became more important: while in caves, there is only one drawing of a human, megaliths can be interpreted as anthropomorphic forms. On the other hand, Paleolithic people used stones, pigments, and rudimentary materials for drawing, whereas Neolithic representatives acquired new skills. Finally, Neolithic art and creativity began to be used for applied purposes, while earlier inventions referred to mythology and rituals.

Despite numerous archaeological studies of these sites, it should be borne in mind that the value of modern finds may be in doubt. In particular, professionals have to decide whether the discovery is real or fake, as these places are collected by many tourists. On the other hand, there is much controversy with the interpretation of the purpose of the stones, since the complex set of megaliths ambiguously reflects the history of their use. This is also reflected in the diversity of opinions: while some researchers believe that ancient people used the stones to study solar and lunar eclipses, others argue that the megaliths were only used for economic purposes. At the same time, valuable images on the cave walls are naturally eroded. Thus, due to the presence of tourists, it became possible to infect the cave, which put the safety of rock paintings in danger.


Bentley, Jerry, Herbert Ziegler, and Heather Streets-Salter. Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2014.

“Lascaux.” Ministere de la Culture. n.d. Web.

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“The Megaliths of Carnac.” The Megaliths of Carnac. Web.

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