A Lesson Plan for Cave Paintings

•      Cave Paintings

•      Presentation Outline

Poster 1

Historical background

•From Cro-Magnon period, the early modern human beings lived between 35,000 and 12,000 years ago.

•During this time, modern man began to flourish and new forms of artistic expression appeared in their tools, their bodily ornamentation, and their clothing.

•The oldest murals ever painted were done on walls of caves.

•These cave paintings are viewed as very beginning of art as we know it.

•Cave paintings have been found all over the world – Europe, South America, Australia, Africa,

•In Europe – Lascaux, France; Chauvet, France (oldest); Altamira, Spain?; Les Trois Freres, France?

•We will focus on one set of caves, the Lascaux (prounounced Lasco) Cave in France

•Paintings are mostly of animals

Why did they paint the animals in the cave?

• to capture spirit of animals they hunted and depended on for food, religious reasons, to remember what animals looked like, to use to tell stories

Lascaux Cave

•How cave found – In 1940 4 French schoolchildren were playing looking for an underground passage that led to an old house.  Their dog fell in a hole.  They got the dog and looked into the hole.  They came back a few days later with lamp and knives.  They widening the opening and went in the cave and discovered the paintings.  They got their schoolteacher, Monsieur Laval to come see.  As soon as Laval saw he knew he must notify historians, Abbe Henri Breuil

•Archeologists have determined cave to be about 17,000 years old or 15,000 B.C.

•Lascaux Cave opened to the public on July 14, 1948.  Many people cam to view the caves.

•In 1963 the French government closed the caves in fear of irreparable damage.

•Created imitation cave nearby

Art materials

•Paint made by crushing minerals into powder and putting them onto damp surfaces, like rock.

•sometimes mixed with wax or oil so they could stick to other materials such as hide, wood or bone.

•powdered pigments were kept in hollow bone tubes

• what natural materials did they use to make paint colors and what color did it make???

•Colors – Browns, yellows, red, oranges – crushed rocks and soil

•      Black – charcoal

•      Violet – manganese

•      White – chalk

•      Green, blue – special rocks

• what natural materials did they use to make paint with??

• hollow sticks or bones, leather pads, feathers, fur, sticks or fingers

•Surfaces besides cave walls – rocks, hide, wood, bone

•Used scaffolding to reach up high in cave to paint

•Paintings included handprints either in stencil form or dipped in paint and symbols.  Could be “signatures” or simply spiritual.

Poster 2 & Poster 12

•Notice the scale of the cave as compared to the person in the pictures.

•Paintings are very large.

•In the Hall of Bulls, the room feels like a “stampede of animals” with a strong sense of movement

•Next posters are pictures of major animals in cave

 

Poster 3 – Great Black Aurochs / Chinese Horse

Great Black Aurochs

– Auroch is ancestor of bulls

•over 52 aurochs found in Lascaux Caves

 

Chinese Horse

•painted with dark yellow ocher color and hatching along its belly.

•called Chinese Horse because it resembles horses of Ancient China.

 

Poster 4 – The Crossed Bison / Cow and Foal

The Crossed Bison

•two males, 8 feet across, are showing their rivalry at the beginning of mating season.

•shedding their winter coat revealing their lighter coat beneath.

Cow and Foal

•symbols used

•a disjointed sign on the hindquarters of the partially painted red cow

•an arrangement of dots and a sign composed of five elements below the breast of the small yellow horse with a black mane.

 

Poster 5 – Falling Cow / Great Black Cow

Falling Cow

• What is happening to the cow?

•With a spear stuck in its chest, the animal is seeking its balance with its front legs

•Another symbol – grid sign is shown before it and ponies below.

Great Black Cow

•- The black-coated animal outlined with an engraved line, is 7 ft, 10-½ inch long, 5 ft 11-in wide, and the tips of the horns are 20 feet from the ground.

Poster 6 – Unicorn / Aurochs

Unicorn

• Why is this called a “Unicorn”

•Although the animal has two horns, it is called a unicorn.  May not be based on real animal but a dream.

•It has thick legs, a large stomach and round spots like those of a jaguar.

•Also revealed is the sketchy profile of a reddish horse.

Aurochs

•- The first aurochs has a small black stag across its chest.  In the line of its belly is a small purple bear and a cow and a calf.  A sword-shaped sign precedes the second aurochs in this frieze.

Poster 7 – Swimming Stags / Wounded Bison & Rhinoceros

Swimming Stags

•the artist used the dark coloring of the rock to represent the river that the deer, drawn with manganese crayons, are swimming across.  Note the seven red dots in the antlers of one deer.

Wounded Bison and Rhinoceros

•A rhinoceros has disemboweled the bison who in its dying rage attacks the masked man attempting to complete the kill

•only humans represented in Lascaux, a crude stick figure is here.

•weapons and a bird-headed staff lie about.

 

Poster 8 – Rotunda / Aurochs

Rotunda

•Along the left wall of the great frieze is the imaginary ground level on which the animals stand.

•To the right are the pools which were full of water at the time of discovery.

•At the back is the entrance to the Axial Gallery.

Aurochs

•The animal, drawn in outline with black manganese, is escorted by horses as it advances toward a deer moving in the opposite direction.  This painting is part of the great frieze in the Rotunda.

 

Posters 9, 10, 11

Details of bulls, deer and horse throughout caves

 

Cave Paintings 

•The first art was created during a period of time known as the Paleolithic period or the Old Stone Age (from about 35,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C.), a time during the last Ice Age when humans first started using stone tools.
•About two and half million years ago, early man or Homo Habilis learned the importance of hunting in small groups and forming a community; these people evolved into Homo Erectus who traveled to and began inhabiting most places of the earth.  Homo Sapiens, also known as Cro-Magnon man in western Europe, evolved about 100,000 years ago; these people created the Mousterian civilization and were expert hunters and lived in small communities of huts and tents either under rock shelters or in the open.  These people were considered the first modern humans and arrived in Europe and the Middle East during the Ice Age.
•The Magdalenian civilization evolved about 18,000 years ago during a period of great change in climate as the glaciers retreated and milder weather led to increased hunting, formation of additional tribes, and the development of language and technical inventions.
•Cave paintings have been found throughout the world, especially in Europe.  The Lascaux Cave was discovered in 1940 near the town of Montignac in southwestern France, expeditions of this cave led to halls filled with incredible work created by the early Magdalenian artists.  The cave contains 600 paintings (large and small), almost 1500 engravings, and a treasure of artifacts left behind by the artists some 17,000 years ago.
•The cave artists used flint points to create the fine engravings. Hair and bristle from animals were used to make brushes and animal skin served as sponges; both of these, along with their fingers were used to fill in the engraved shapes.  They would also blow pigment through a hollow tube using their mouths to fill in the shapes or create a handprint.  They used pigments made from minerals that had been ground into powder or turned into a chalk-like crayon. The colors they used were red, yellow, brown, black, and white.
•The artists, with their flints, pigments, brushes, food, and fuel for lamps, would go deep into the caves planning on staying for several days to create their paintings.  The images they painted were animals they hunted – bison, bulls, horses, aurochs, stags, rhinoceros, and mammoths.  These images were detailed and anatomically correct, and the artists placed them in scenes remembered from real life.  The images also show sophisticated techniques of perspective, movement, and proportion.
•The cave art also includes markings, symbols, geometric shapes, and patterns – many dots, circles, rectangles, zigzags, grids, and other signs as well as stencils and prints of hands.
•The cave artists painted on the ceilings and high walls as well as surfaces that could easily be reached.  Some of the artists used wide shelf-like ledges to reach high places, but they also had to construct ladders and scaffolding from wooden posts to paint the scenes.  In order to see in the deep, dark caves they used torches of wood and lamps that burned animal fat.
•Many experts think that the artists believed they captured an animal’s soul when they painted it, so if the artists captured the animal’s true likeness they thought they would be sure to capture the real thing during a hunt.  So these paintings were hunting magic and the tribes believed that they gained magical powers over the animals by painting them.
•It is also believed that these paintings were used to cure illnesses or to ward off evil spirits.  Another idea is that the cave paintings represented memories and told stories.  They were used to pass down memories to future generations since these people did not read or write.

Vocabulary

 

•Homo Habilis Homo Erectus  Homo Sapiens Paleolithic  pigments
aurochs  frieze   rotunda  proportion    perspective

 

Objectives

 

1.How were these paintings created?

2.What tools and inventions were necessary?

3.Were these paintings painted as an expression of a primitive people, or rather a sophisticated and intelligent people?

4.What could these paintings mean or symbolize?

 

Resources

 

Children’s books – Painters of the Caves, Patricia Lauber; First Painter, Kathryn Lasky; Prehistoric Art (Art in History series), Susie Hodge; The First Artists, Dorothy and Joseph Samachson; The Beginnings of Art, Philip Van Doren Stern

Other books – The Cave of Lascaux, The Final Photographs, Mario Ruspoli; Dawn of Art:  The Chauvet Cave, The Oldest Known Paintings in the World, Jean-Marie Chauvet; Images of the Ice Age, Paul G. Bahn and Jean Vertut; The Art of the Stone Age (Art of the World series), Hans-Georg Bandi; Secrets of the Ice Age, The World of Cave Artists, Evan Hadingham

Magazine articles – “Art Treasures from the Ice Age:  Lascaux Cave”, Jean-Philippe Rigaud, National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 174, No. 4, October 1988

Videos – “Lascaux Revisited” (excellent, by Mario Ruspoli author of The Cave of Lascaux, The Final Photographs), “Lascaux ”    (both videos are on the shelf to check out)

Web Sites – www.culture.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/index.html

 

Cave Paintings

Projects

Materials

Brown craft paper or brown wrapping paper

Oil pastels, chalk pastels, crayons – (oil pastels crayons recommended)

•      Natural colors – black, brown, gold, red, white, orange, yellow,

Prehistoric animals

Bison, auroch (bull), musk-ox, horse, deer, ibex, reindeer, rhinoceros, lion, cave bear, brown bear, boar, wooly mammoth, megaceros or giant deer,

Cut brown paper into 15” x 18”.  Have the students crumble the paper by crushing it tightly.  Lightly smooth out paper.  When the sheets are opened and smoother out, they provide a rough drawing surface simulating a rough cave wall.

Then, the students can draw the outline of one of the animals.  They can color in or just show an outline.  Use the natural colors listed above.  They can draw dots and circles on the shape or just show it as an outline.  Surrounding the animals and all over the paper, they can draw symbols similar to those they saw in the Cave Art prints or make up their own.
Optional:

Turn out lights so it’s dark like a cave

Sign with handprint

Roughly cut and mount individual pieces on large paper to resemble cave mural.

 

Cave Paintings

Inventory Notes

1 Lascaux Cave

Humans Upper

The only humans represented in Lascaux.  A crude stick-figure male with a bird head or mask was drawn beside an eviscerated bison, wounded perhaps by a hunter’s spear.

Painters Lower left

Painting by the flickering light of animal-fat lamps, artists probably used scaffolding to reach as high as five meters from the cave floor in the halls of the Bulls.  In a nearby gallery, holes about two meters high held branches for a platform that stretched from wall to wall still visible is the clay used to pack the poles in place.

Tools  Lower right

The artists used tools similar to these from the nearby site of Cap Blanc.  On a grindstone rests nodules of manganese and ocher, two sculptor’s picks, and an engraving burin whose scraper end bears hardened ocher.

2 Interior View of the Cave

Upper left

Notice the scale of the cave as compared to the person in the pictures.

Upper right

Lower left

Upper right

3 Great Black Aurochs / Chinese Horse

Great Black Aurochs, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves  Upper

The horns are shown in half-twisted perspective, the head is in full profile, and the horns are in three-quarter view.

•Chinese Horse, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves  Lower

This galloping horse was painted with dark yellow ocher color and hatching along its belly.  It is called Chinese Horse because it resembles horses of Ancient China.

4 The Crossed Bison / Cow and Foal

The Crossed Bison, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Upper

The two males, 8 feet across, are showing their rivalry at the beginning of mating season.  They are shedding their winter coat revealing their lighter coat beneath.

•Cow and Foal, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Lower

There is a disjointed sign on the hindquarters of the partially painted red cow, and an arrangement of dots and a sign composed of five elements below the breast of the small yellow horse with a black mane.
5 Falling Cow / Great Black Cow

Falling Cow, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Upper

With a spear stuck in its chest, the animal is seeking its balance with its front legs.  A grid sign is shown before it and ponies below.

•Great Black Cow, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Lower

The black-coated animal outlined with an engraved line, is 7 ft, 10-½ inch long, 5 ft 11-in wide, and the tips of the horns are 20 feet from the ground.

6 Unicorn / Aurochs

Unicorn, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Upper

Although the animal has two horns, it is called a unicorn.  It has thick legs, a large stomach and round spots like those of a jaguar.  Also revealed is the sketchy profile of a reddish horse.

•Aurochs, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Lower

The first aurochs has a small black stag across its chest.  In the line of its belly is a small purple bear and a cow and a calf.  A sword-shaped sign precedes the second aurochs in this frieze.

7 Swimming Stags / Wounded Bison & Rhinoceros

Swimming Stags, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Upper

The artist used the dark coloring of the rock to represent the river that the deer, drawn with manganese crayons, are swimming across.  Note the seven red dots in the antlers of one deer.

Wounded Bison and Rhinoceros, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Lower

A rhinoceros has disemboweled the bison who in its dying rage attacks the masked man attempting to complete the kill.  Weapons and a bird-headed staff lie about.

8 Rotunda / Aurochs

Rotunda, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Upper

Along the left wall of the great frieze is the imaginary ground level on which the animals stand.  To the right are the pools which were full of water at the time of discovery.   At the back is the entrance to the Axial Gallery.

Aurochs, 17,000 years old, Lascaux Caves Lower

The animal, drawn in outline with black manganese, is escorted by horses as it advances toward a deer moving in the opposite direction.  This painting is part of the great frieze in the Rotunda.

9 The Bull

details of The Bull

Upper left

Upper right

Middle left

Middle right

Lower left

Lower middle

Lower right

10 The Deer

details of The Deer

Upper left

Upper right

Middle left

Middle right

Lower left

Lower right

11 The Horse

details of The Horse

Upper right

Middle left

Middle right

Lower left

Lower right

12 Walking Through the Caverns of Lascaux Cave

Upper left

Upper middle

Upper right

Lower left

Lower middle

Lower right

Lake Anne Elementary GRACE Art 2003 – 2004