Saturday, January 15, 2011

Learning all about Cave Art

Discovering the difference between a Pictogram and a Petroglyph.  

Cave Art is divided into two categories:  Painting Sites (Pictograms) or Carving Sites (Petroglyphs).  Both are important forms of pre-writing used in communication.

The expression "cave painting" usually refers to drawing or painting on the walls or ceiling or prehistoric caves of the Stone Age (Paleolithic period  2,500,000 - 10,000 BCE).  Some spectacular examples of this rock art have been found in places such as France and Spain and other parts of the world (Africa - Nambia, Argentina, India, Chile and Australia).   The oldest cave paintings date back to 30,000 BCE in Grotte Charet (Chauvet Cave) in the Ardeche region of France.  Stone Age artists created a variety of figurative and abstract images.  Naturalistic pictures mostly depict hunting scenes with arrangements of animals and usually include a variety of dots, lines, signs or symbols.

Lascaux Cave Painting in France

To discover the famous paintings in Lascaux France, visit this interactive 3D website! 

Petroglyphs are symbols drawn by pre-historic cultures which are also referred to as "rock art".  Petroglyphs are pecked or abraded marks that  people have purposely made on the rocks in the landscape - on boulders, cliff sides and other stone outcrops.  Pecking involves hitting the rock surface with a chisel like tool and abrading involves grinding the rock surface where lines can be lightly scratched or incised.  The oldest petroglyphs date back to approximately the Neolithic and Upper Paleolithic periods about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.  

Many petroglyph designs can be easily identified and others remain a mystery.  Petroglyphs are not graffiti, hieroglyphics or doodles but were made for various reasons; to mark the landscape, record events, used in sky watching, game hunting, or telling stories.

Peterborough Petroglyphs in Ontario, Canada

To discover more about petroglyphs, visit these sites:
-  Rock Art video by the National Geographic Society-  Petroglyphs of the World
-  Peterborough Petroglyphs in Ontario, Canada
-  African Petroglyphs

-  Make your own Hawaiian Petroglyph

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