• Kapova

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  • Palaeolithic

    Cave Paintings

    The largest part of the cave paintings was found in Europe (from Spain up to the Ural). Naturally, on the walls of neglected caves with the entrances firmly blocked up thousands years ago, the paintings are in a good condition. During centuries the same temperature and humidity have been kept up in them. That is why, together with the cave paintings, other numerous evidences of the human activity are perfectly preserved, among them - distinct footprints of adults and, what is more impressive, of children on the wet floor of some caves.

    Provinces Dordogne, Ariege Upper Pyrenees in France, Spanish provinces Cantabria and Asturias, adjoining Pyrenees from south-west, are especially remarkable for the concentration of the cave paintings. In literature this region is generally entitled Franco-Cantabria. There are less monuments of Palaeolithic art in French and Italian Riviera, on Sicily; two caves with paintings are found in the southern Ural. The majority of those caves and grottoes were discovered and became the objects of special investigation during the last century. Palaelothic art was long considered to be a purely European or Eurasian phenomenon and no monuments of this type exist on the other continents. H. Breuil even tried to substantiate this exceptional nature of proto-European culture. But later, in the 60 - 70s it turned out to be not correct. In Australia, on Arnemland peninsula, depictions of a kangaroo and hand stencils older than 12000 years were found. In South Africa finds from grotto Appolo 11 are the most interesting. In 1969 two painted stone palm-sized plaquettes were found in the layer between Mousterian and Upper Palaeolithic. One of them was split into two fragments. A rhino depiction made with a black pigment is on one of the plaquettes, an ungulate - on the other. They are dated according to C - 14 to 28000 - 26000 years. In South Africa, in the Lions Cave, the most ancient known place of ochre output, dated according to C-14 to 43200 was found. Hypothetically, some ancient paintings in Siberia, southern Anatolia and northern China are referred to the Upper Palaeolithic but still there are no more or less correct dates of those depictions.

    Modern data of the cave painting prevalence do not reflect any objective regularity. Rarity of the finds of this kind on the territory between Frano- Cantabria and the Ural can be rather explained by the natural conditions and unequal research of the territories with the caves than by any other reasons. In pre-historic art study the process of the "primary accumulation" of the data is not only far from consummation but even not complete, the more so it is difficult to determine the level of this "sufficiency". Even in southern France, the territory, regular studied for a hundred of years, one can make unexpected discoveries. In the region with concentrated cave paintings, which seems to be investigated thoroughly by abbey H.Breuil and his first pupils in their time, 21 previously unknown caves were discovered in the period between 1984 up to 1994. Among them there are caves, just as ancient, abounding in finds and diverse as world famous due to their paintings Altamira, Lascaux and others. As for the Chauvet cave, it occupies the leading position among them. Probably a new cave with even more ancient, perfect and diverse paintings will be found soon.

    In 1994 more than 300 caves, grottoes and roofs with paintings, undoubtedly dated to the Upper Palaeolithic, are known in Europe. Among them 150 - in France, 125 - in Spain, 3 - in Portugal, 21 - in Italy, 1 - in Yugoslavia, 1 - in Roumania, 2 - in Germany and 2 - in Russia. Numerous objects of portable art are found on the sites, in caves during excavations and accidentally. The number of the finds in Russia exceeded 150 ( the most eastern - in Pribaikalje) New finds and discoveries are, undoubtedly, still ahead




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