The Hall of Bulls Cave Paintings at Lascaux

The paintings of the Sistine Chapel of Prehistory, or the Lascaux, are the famous pieces of art of ancient Paleolithic humans. Founded in the complex of caves in Vézère Valley, Dordogne, Southwestern France, these pictures are known to be of exceptional size, beauty, sophistication and quality. It is suggested that they are 20,000 years old. The whole set consists of more than 2000 paintings which are divided in three sections, namely the animals, humans, and abstract images. Some of the pictures look faint and deteriorated because of their old age, and carbonate is present since many tourists and visitors come here from all over the world to experience and feel the presence of prehistoric humans via ancient paintings. Despite it all, scientists discovered about 900 pictures of animals, and 600 of them are already identified.

There are some suggestions concerning the period during which these caves were used, especially taking into consideration the fact that under the counters of some pictures the rest of older paintings can be seen. According to historical reports, caves were used by more than 1000 generations, so that the pictures may be considered to be the transfer of experience and knowledge from father to son. The pictures are painted with the help of light of torches. Some of them are of a huge size. For example, the bull is 17 ft that, in its turn, testifies about coordinated effort and deep care of ancient man lasting more than thousands of years. In addition, all the bulls are depicted in motion and one of them, namely the Crossed Bison, testifies about the ability of perspective of ancient people in picturing animals.

The main reason why those ancient people started painting pictures on the walls of caves is still unclear. However, there are a number of suggestions. The simplest one is that humans reached the stage of development when they became capable of thinking figuratively, which led to the appearance of those images on the walls. Another reason is connected with a simple aspiration for something spiritual and intangible. In other words, Paleolithic people desired to express themselves in a form of art. According to the third theory, ancient humans tried to depict those pictures because of two main reasons. On the one hand, they wanted to portray the animals they killed and then consumed at least in the pictures in order to give them a kind of eternal life to renovate them in the world of nature. On the other hand, painting was a kind of magic in that meaning that the depiction of animals was considered a ritual aimed at asking Gods to make hunting more successful and safe and to ward off all negative evils and demons that, as they believed, surrounded them. The latest theory supposes that the location and the size as well as the particular animal were one of the first prototypes of modern star map. This concept is supported by the French researcher Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez who suggests that pictures represent an extensive and wide star map and the biggest animals correspond to the main stars in constellations, as they were seen by Paleolithic humans.

In conclusion, one should say that in spite of the unclarity connected with the reasons causing people to create the pictures on the walls of caves, the complex and especially the most famous part of Lascaux, namely the Hall of Bulls, is of great importance for history in general and for the history of arts in particular. On the one hand, it shows the early imagination of ancient people, the way they lived and hunted, and on the other hand, these paintings serve as the first example of human art.

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