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Kilroy, B.C.

This spooky image was made by one man (a man, I assume), about 5’10” tall, using just his right hand to apply pigment…

…upwards of 30,000 years ago, making this thing and all the artwork in Chauvet Cave about twice as old as that in the famous Lascaux caves, discovered in 1940. Actually, it looks to me like there were two pigments, a dark charcoal-y pigment followed by a pale yellow one, giving the drop shadow effect that makes these pop off the wall in such an alarming way. Chauvet was discovered (also by accident) in 1994 and there has been controversy about the dates, but the carbon dating of pigments and bones has been repeated several times from many different spots in the cave.

I actually think the drawings in Chauvet are more sophisticated than Lascaux (though similar in style), and beautiful…and I’m not just saying that because you’re supposed to think ugly, primitive crap is wonderful. I generally hate folk art in all its ugly, primitive crappiness. These drawings are well-observed and rendered in a suprisingly sophisticated way, given that the artist(s) had nothing but dirt and soot to work with.

If you like this kind of thing, you can burn many a happy hour at Don’s Maps, the website of Don Hitchcock. who I assume is an archeologist (a modest fellow with no About Me page). Yes, there are maps, but mostly there are hundreds of pictures of archeological sites and artifacts from around the world.

UPDATE: oh, pooh! Fie! And also piffle! That hands image isn’t a real cave image, it’s a computer reconstruction of how the “bison made of dots of red” wall art was created. Thanks to Crabby Old Bat for swinging the clue bat. The rest of the art is still way cool, though.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 2, 2012, 10:30 pm

Fortunately, no star maps were found that would eventually lead scientists on an expedition to a far away moon/alien bio-weapons lab to meet their makers…. LOL…

I’m eagerly awaiting whatever Ridley Scott comes up with for the sequel to PROMETHIUS, which is being loosely called PARADISE FOUND….

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 3, 2012, 12:04 am

That image is really haunting. And, yes, the images from the Chauvet Cave in general are elegant and sophisticated, in a way one doesn’t expect. Thank you for the introduction!

Comment from Crabby Old Bat
Time: July 3, 2012, 12:16 am

No, that “spooky hands” image is a recreation of how the hand was applied to create an image made of dots formed by pigment on the palm only. Look again at the Don’s Maps site – it shows the palm-dot work (probably a bison or rhino), then shows a computer reconstruction – with a full hand shown over each palm-dot – of how the dots were created.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: July 3, 2012, 12:55 am

That image beat all hell out of pug t-shirt loser guy.


Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 3, 2012, 1:39 am

Crabby’s right, but the actual image is still way cool. And many of the other images are just freaking amazing.

Not only was all this art done 30,000 years ago, it was done underground, by torchlight.

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: July 3, 2012, 2:50 am

There are caves outside of Mexico City that have pre-historic paintings on the walls. It was my only time ever seeing something like it. They just happened to be in a little cave next to a small canyon to the east of the city. We were staying the weekend at a little hotel nearby and there was nothing to stop one from just wandering over and discovering the cave as if for the first time. Never expected it, just happened upon it. A small plaque was all that announce its presence. I was in awe.

Comment from Oceania
Time: July 3, 2012, 3:42 am

7 microSieverts per hour in Colorado!
Scubie! Get your geiger counter out!

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 3, 2012, 4:57 am

@Oceania/Flashheart – So what? Everyone dies. Not everyone lives with an internet troll constantly telling them that they are going to mutate into King Kong…

Comment from Mike C.
Time: July 3, 2012, 7:08 am

I’m guessing Oceana is nor a big fan of granite countertops in kitchens…

Sppoky image up top…

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: July 3, 2012, 7:33 am

The first instance of the “Laying on of the hands”?

The first rock pervert?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 3, 2012, 9:33 am

Dammit, really? See, that’s what I get for lookin’ at the pitchers and blowing off the text. I’ll have to amend the post, I suppose.

Still, the animal drawings are way awesome.

Comment from Redd
Time: July 3, 2012, 12:28 pm

A pet peeve of mine is when they make reconstructions too life like. Here, they even rearranged the fingers in different positions. They shouldn’t have done that.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 3, 2012, 1:00 pm

Maybe they could tell which way the hand was pointing for each of the palm prints?

And, it is still a haunting image, whatever its genesis.

Comment from Redd
Time: July 3, 2012, 1:49 pm

And, it is still a haunting image, whatever its genesis.

It is. I expect to see it duplicated on the side of the Weasel/Badger garden shed for generations 30,000 years in the future. Of course, theirs won’t be hand prints but tiny little paw prints.

Ecco Mustelidae!

Comment from rustbucket
Time: July 3, 2012, 2:52 pm

O/T..Andy Griffith passed away this morning in Dare Co, NC. 86 years old. Another NC legend gone this year.

Comment from Laughing Buddha
Time: July 3, 2012, 2:54 pm

@rustbucket – and another DeadPool!

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: July 3, 2012, 3:37 pm

I got to visit the Grotte de Niaux in the Pyrenees, one of the very few places they still let grubby tourists see the actual cave art. Totally worth it. Not only are the caves cool, you get to see that the artists went all the way the hell to the back of the cave before they started painting, and they sure didn’t do preliminary sketches. They knew exactly what they were doing and where they wanted to do it.

Comment from Redd
Time: July 3, 2012, 4:06 pm

So, why make their paintings so far in? Sure, they wanted to protect them from the elements. Maybe, from other prehistoric douchebags who would vandalize it? But why paint animals instead of people or trees or mountains? How come their art is so much better than the Egyptians, Greeks, and even the Romans? And, where’s the porn? Come on! There’s got to be prehistoric porn somewhere.

Comment from JeffS
Time: July 3, 2012, 4:30 pm

Yep, Sheriff Andy is gone. Maybe Jimmah Cartah will give someone a dick in the near future.

Comment from Goober
Time: July 3, 2012, 4:50 pm

There are some cave paintings in my area here in eastern washington. Some of them are pretty accessible to anyone who wants to drive up to them. Some not so much. I drove my jet boat 3 hours up Hells Canyon through class three whitewater one time and one of the stops along the way was at a cave hollowed out of a basalt cliff where somebody, a long, long time ago, painted some pictures of deer and people on the rocks. It was really awesome for a couple of reasons. First, I was in awe of the heartiness of a people who would choose to live in Hell’s Canyon – walking about with everything they owned on travois with nary a beast of burden among them to haul a thing. Second, I thought the art was quite good considering that it had been painted using some sort of local minerals and fish blood on a guy’s finger. Third, I am amazed it lasted this long – most renaissance art would have deteriorated away in those conditions within a hundred years, and yet here we are hundreds and possibly thousands of years later appreciating their art.

I wondered what the artist’s name was. i wondered what his story had been. Did he live to a ripe old age, or die young? Did he have a family? Was he alone when he painted them, or surrounded by family and loved ones who admired and criticized his art (everyone is a critic, and my guess is that a few hundred years or even a millenia hasn’t changed that fact). What was he doing down there in that godforsaken hole? (If I were to guess, he was probably fishing, since the Snake River used to have prolific salmon runs before us white men dammed it and killed most of them off). What was he fishing for? Was he catching 10 foot long white sturgeon that could feed his family for weeks? Or was he spearing king salmon? I guessed that he was probably well fed, since he had time and energy to paint instead of spending all his time fighting to find food. Even now, the biomass in hell’s canyon is exceptional – bighorn sheep, deer, fish, game birds galore – so my guess is that he had no trouble finding food.

The one thing that I was sure of, and was sort of in awe of that fact, was that the landscape that he was living in was very nearly identical to the one that I was in looking at his art – even today, with all of our tenchonolgy, Hell’s Canyon is pretty inaccesible to those who don’t have jet boats or float planes. Where I was standing is the most inaccessible place in Oregon – far from any traversable road, where the river is the only way in or out.

I decided that I’d have rather liked to meet the man who did those paintings. I figured that we could probably learn something from each other. It was a very neat experience.

Comment from Mark T
Time: July 3, 2012, 6:51 pm

A couple of miles from the Lescaux cave, they have painstakingly recreated the drawings on the wall of a similar cave. Oh, was it fascinating! One thing I remember from the guide’s talk: none of the drawings depict any killing or death, which is quite strange, because they were hunters. No one knows why, but there are plenty speculations, most of them positing that the animals were held to be sacred.

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