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The cave of Lascaux: pictures by neanderthals

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When it comes to communication we adapt to different form to really a message with others like text and as well as pictures. 15,000 years ago, people used pictures as a form of communication without any writing involved. In the cave of Lascaux, France is one of many cities where these pictures can be found, which neanderthals and humans were able to coexist 30,000 years ago. But it was very difficult for them to survive as resources were low and the weather was cold.

In the valley of Vèzére, France the people living there were able to see the many range of wildlife that were able to pass by the town. The people had discovered a cave on a hill that overlooked the valley and inside they painted and drew pictures that were later discovered in 1940. Researches would crawl into small openings and narrow spaces to get to the bigger rooms. The prehistoric people discovered that the wall on the cave were a perfect canvas, where they were able to draw and paint. They were able to paint on white calcite, which were covered by nonporous rocks that provided a dry place to keep that art. For them to paint they used charcoal and ochre. The images that were found in the caves were of horses, deer, bison, elk, lions, rhinoceros and bears. Which acted as a source of the areas prehistoric wildlife. Within the pictures there are markings such as dots and lines as well.


The image shows the animals being painted in a “twisted perspective”, where their bodies are in profile and the horns are seen as a frontal view. Some of the pictures are linear, and sometimes the animals are painted in solid and blended colors, which are blown by the mouth on the wall. In some areas of the Lascaux cave some of the people carved on the soft surface of the calcite. The size of the cave spaces varied in different sizes, which made it a bit easy to access them. The Hall of Bulls, which is one of the more famous discovery can hold unto a number of 50 people. With this particular room, the artist who took part in painting it carefully thought out the shape of the bull and what lines they would use and color.


Some scholars have come up with many theories as to why these people painted on the walls of Lascaux and other caves. One particular person was Henri Breuil, who spent most of the times in the caves recording the images when it became too difficult to photograph, he used ethnography. He believed that these images had some role in “hunting magic”. The theory goes, that the people used these images to overpower these animals in order for them to have success in hunting. Other theories state that these images tell a story.


These caves are one of the most famous out of all of the known ones in the region. But due to its popularity the caves have become endangered. The number of visitors that have gone to see the cave between 1940 and 1963, has created an imbalance in the environment of the cave. Which was preserving the images for a really longtime.  And due to this the cave has been permanently closed to the public. There was another site called Lascaux II that was a copy of the original caves.


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