When I first read about the Lascaux Caves, I did not comprehend the significance of the cave drawings; my initial thought was, “What’s the big deal? My niece can draw just like this, and she’s not in text books.” To be honest, I have never been able to understand why the simplest things were considered art, and cave paintings never interested me really. I did not think about how long ago they were painted or how they even had the supplies to paint. But, after actually reading about the Lascaux Caves and opening my mind to see life and art from a different perspective, I have a new appreciation for it.
I originally thought that the Paleolithic people stayed closer to the openings of the caves to receive that natural sunlight. However, a lot of the paintings and engravings are found deeper in the cave where natural light was insufficient lighting. And so, the Paleolithic people figured out how to light the caves using lamps made from rocks with a carved circular hole. They used products combustion based on animal fat to create a fire. And, over a hundred of these lamps were found within the Lascaux Caves.
When painting, I personally like to use an elaborate set of colors of bright oranges, greens, blues, and so on. However, the painters’ pallet of the Paleolithic people was based upon a small variety of dark, warm colors, such as, dark brown, red and yellow. The pigments included metal oxides, iron, manganese and charcoal. I would have never have guessed that the Paleolithic people were able to find and learn how to use these products to make paint. Furthermore, it makes me wonder why they kept to such basic colors, Did they just not have the capability to expand their pallet, or was the simplicity of using the dark warm colors suppose to help portray the different animals?
The basic theme of the cave is based upon three things, animals, human and signs. There are over 600 drawings in the Lascaux cave, which consists mostly of horses, deer and bison. There are even paintings that are interpreted to be the figure of a unicorn. It is very bizarre to think that over 10,000 years ago, they were drawing unicorns, and the “unicorn” in fact has two horns close together. So rather than saying they had drawn a unicorn, I believe it would be technically correct to say that they had drawn a potential mythological creature. On another note, it is believed yet not proven, that the Lascaux caves were a place of sanctuary. The people paid closed attention to detail in the animals and gave them color; however, their drawings of the people were left as stick figures and even some of them have body parts replaced with that of an animal. I believe this is to show the significance of the animal, and that they drew what they cherished.
The Lascaux caves are quite an amazing discovery. Like all works of art, it tells us a story about the people who created it. Though we yet know why these people were so focused on certain objects, we are able to see how much more advanced they were than any of us probably thought. Though it took them many years to finally be able to paint and draw, it is still astonishing to know that they were able to create their own paint that is more than just berries, and that they were able to create lamps to light their way in the caves.