30,000 – 500 B.C.E.
Paleolithic Art: 40,000-8,000 BCE in the Near East
"Old Stone Age" 40,000-4,000 BCE in Europe
- Hunter-Gatherers, Nomadic
Neolithic Art: 8,000- 3,000 BCE in the Near East
"New Stone Age" 4,000- 2,000 BCE in Europe
- Cultivated, raised livestock, organized settlements
[photo courtesy of http://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/NHM/Prehist/Homepage_PA_E.html]
Essential Understanding #1: Prehistoric art existed before writing.
- Human behavior and expression was influenced by the changing environments in which they lived.
- The earliest peoples were small groups of hunter-gatherers, whose paramount concern was sheer survival, resulting in the creation of practical objects.
- People established many artistic media, from the first fired ceramics (in Asia), to painting and incised graphic designs (primarily on rock surfaces), sculpture (notably female and animal figurines), and architecture (stone megalithic installations).
- Ritual and symbolic works perhaps intended to encourage the availability of flora and fauna food sources, objects often made with natural materials like bone or clay and cave art indicating strong tradition of rituals.
Essential Understanding #2: The oldest objects are African or Asian.
- Prehistoric art is concerned with cosmic phenomena as well as down-to-earth concerns.
- Human behavior is charted in the earliest art works.
- Ceramics are first produced in Asia.
- The people of the Pacific are migrants from Asia, who bring ceramic making techniques with them.
- European cave paintings indicate a strong tradition of rituals.
- Early American objects use natural materials, like bone or clay, to create ritual objects.
ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDING #3: Prehistoric art is best understood as an interdisciplinary activity.
- Scientific dating of objects has shed light on the use of prehistoric objects.
- Archaeology increases our understanding of prehistoric art.
- Basic art historical methods can be used to understand prehistoric art, but our knowledge increases with findings made in other fields.
Apollo 11 stones. Namibia. C.25,500-25,300 BCE Charcoal on stone
Great Hall of the Bulls. Lascaux, France. Paleolithic Europe. 15,000-13,000 BCE. Rock Painting
Camelid sacrum in the shape of a canine. Tequixquiac, central Mexico. 14,000-7,000 BCE Bone
Running horned woman. Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria. 6,000-4,000 BCE Pigment on rock.
Bushel (Beaker) with ibex motifs. Susa, Iran.
4200-3500 BCE Painted terra cotta Neolithic
Anthropomorphic stele. Arabian Peninsula. Fourth millennium BCE sandstone
Liangzhu, China. 3,300-2,200 BCE carved jade
UK. Neolithic Europe.
c. 2500–1600 B.C.E. Sandstone.
The Ambum Stone. Ambum Valley, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. c. 1500 B.C.E.
Tlatilco female figurine. Central Mexico, site of Tlatilco. 1200–900 B.C.E. Ceramic.
Terra cotta fragment. Lapita. Solomon Islands, Reef Islands. 1000 B.C.E.
Terra Cotta (incised).