Table of Contents

  • I. Ice Age Art: Basic Issues

    (2014/ 2023) The present study interprets Upper Palaeolithic cave art on the basis of two hypothetical assumptions: in the first place, that many of our current ideas and beliefs about the world actually originated in that distant era, or even long before; and in the second place, that artistic expression is  a perennial  aspect of…


  • II. Methodology

    (2014/2018) An iconographic analysis is a methodical pursuit of conventional images–images that belong to a distinct tradition–for the purpose of detecting their inherent meaning, The approach is based on the assumption that the individual visual motif carries a particular idea (or set of ideas) and furthermore, that this specific motif retains the association with that…


  • III. The Earth

    (2022) Ice Age artists called upon the largest and most massive animals they knew, namely the bison and the pachyderms, to visually represent the solid matter of the earth, its soil and its rocks, the very elements that frame and support all life. The bison’s large hump, often exaggerated by the artists, made it an…


  • IV. The Sky

    [Forthcoming 2023] SUMMARY(2016) While the emergence of the earth has priority in myths of creation from around the world, the establishment of the dual model of earth-and-skyis often hailed as the true beginning of a livable world. In Upper Palaeolithic thought, as well, the creation of the sky introduces the dichotomy that lends structure to…


  • IX. Eschatology

    [Forthcoming 2024/25] SUMMARY (2016) Just as the timely changes of the seasons needed to be insured by ritual interventions, the very existence of the ordered cosmos was not taken for granted. One sign of a perceived threat to the world order is the presence of monsters as part of the cave artists’ repertory. As distinct…


  • V. The Sun and the Year

    [Forthcoming 2024] SUMMARY (2016) Considering the frigid climate during most of the period of the Ice Age art, it is not surprising that the most frequent and ubiquitous motif of this art, the horse, represents the sun. Most decorated caves have at least one image of a horse, and a number of sites are entirely…


  • VI. Fire

    [Forthcoming 2024] SUMMARY(2016) Fire was crucial to survival in the frigid climate of the Upper Palaeolithic era, and references to the element of fire are everywhere in Ice Age art. The ever-shifting shape of flames, however, makes fire an elusive subject for artists of any age, and direct, flame-like images are much less frequent in…


  • VII. The Seasons

    [Forthcoming 2023/24] SUMMARY (2016) Nature’s course through the cycle of the year was a key theme of cave art, not surprisingly so, as the subsistence of the population depended on nature taking its course. The process explored by the artists was, however, perceived as less automatic and reliable than suggested by the modern word “nature.”…


  • VIII. The Ancestors

    [Forthcoming 2024/25] SUMMARY (2016) Ice Age art shows a much larger number of human motifs than is generally acknowledged. The representation of anthropomorph figures, bodies or faces, is small relative to the totality of animal imagery, but the human presence is greatly augmented by numerous partial images, mainly hand prints, and female or male sex…


  • X. Philosophy: Systematic Thought in Upper Palaeolithic Cave Art

    (2014/ 2019) A dualistic mindset is common among archaic cultures, and it is not surprising to find dualism to be pervasive in the world view of the Ice Age artists, ruling everything from the opposites of winter/ summer, to the co-existence of the two sexes, or the cosmic dichotomy of earth/sky. The following analysis of…


  • XI. The Proto-Zodiac and the eight-year Calendar

    (2015/2020) The present study is focused on constellations of the zodiac, and argues that three of our twelve zodiacal images, namely the aurochs bull/Taurus, the ibex/Capricornus, and the lion/Leo, were acknowledged in Palaeolithic astronomy and appeared as such already in early cave sanctuaries. This longevity of astronomical observations is a challenging concept, but we may…


  • XII. References

    (Revised 2022) Acosta González, A. 2003. Grabados de la cueva de los Casares. Tierra de Guadelajara 42. (aache). Airvaux, J. 2001. L’Art préhistorique du Poitou-Charentes. (Paris: maison des roches). Alcalde del Rio, H. e t al. 1911. Les Cavenes de la Région Cantabrique. Monaco. Almagro, M. 1973. “Los pinturas y grabados…de Chufin,” Trabajos de Prehistoria…