The Nature of Paleolithic Art

Author: R. Dale Guthrie
All Hacker News 15


by tokenadult   2017-08-19
A claim about "all-powerful mother goddesses" before the end of the fifth millennium BC is inherently unhistorical. The submitted article notes, "For each group, the data included a description of its agricultural methods as far back in time as it was possible to go using historical evidence or, in the case of groups which did not have a written language, the first time they were observed by outsiders." That's much nearer in time than the transition to plowing the article refers to.

There was no writing anywhere during the earliest part of that transition, and if we saw statues of voluptuous female figures in some places (as we do) from that far back, it is at least as likely that the statues are porn as that they are representations of powerful goddesses. Archeology has historically systematically underestimated, perhaps for delicate readers, the amount of sheer erotic art that was produced by early human beings. The oldest surviving human art on at least two continents is crude drawings of vulvae, so the working hypothesis until additional evidence is found is that ancient human beings did not have a highly developed religion of "all-powerful mother goddesses" but rather incoherent local folk religions that didn't exclude teenage boys (the ancient artists of surviving ancient art were mostly teenage boys) from producing crudely drawn and crudely sculpted porn.

See The Nature of Paleolithic Art by R. Dale Guthrie (published by the University of Chicago press)

for much more about the evidence, as analyzed by an author who is a specialist in Pleistocene megafauna (including Homo sapiens) and himself a fine visual artist.

AFTER EDIT: It boggles my mind that I can link to a source in my comment and still have "readers" here ask what my source is for a factual statement in this comment. The source I linked is the source. (The book I link to is by a research scholar, and itself cites dozens of thorough sources about all aspects of human prehistory.) The book I link to is a lot better than any Wikipedia article. (I am a Wikipedian, painfully aware of how many good sources are missed when amateurs edit articles on Wikipedia.)

by tokenadult   2017-08-19
People who are interested in upper Paleolithic lifestyles will be fascinated by the book The Nature of Paleolithic Art by R. Dale Guthrie, my favorite read of 2008.

The author is a paleozoologist who specializes in upper Paleolithic megafauna (which occasionally are found as frozen specimens with soft tissue preserved in the part of Alaska where he conducts his research) and is also an experience bow-hunter and expert visual artist. The book has an astounding bibliography listed literature in English and other languages about all aspects of human life in the Pleistocene epoch.

by tokenadult   2017-08-19
Accurately depicting the walking stance of quadrupeds has been a problem for humankind for as long as there has been visual art. A great examination of this issue by a paleobiologist who is also an accomplished artist can be found in The Nature of Paleolithic Art,

which was the most interesting book I read in 2008.