HUMANPAST.NET

Art & Music                   8,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

In General

Another intriguing aspect of the changes at the beginning of the Holocene is the almost complete cessation of artistic output, be it cave paintings or mobiliary art. This suggests that, as part of the climatic upheavals at the time, the decline in population density and possibly living standards altered the perceptions of either the need for or capacity to produce these artefacts. The parallel decline in the quality of the antler, bone, ivory and stone tools also implies a lack of time or inclination to concentrate on the artistic nature of the artefact rather than its purely functional requirements. (145)

Africa

 

A hurly-burly of folk movements, new technologies, mythological orientations, and vivid art forms now breaks upon the scene, and we are at the opening of a new age. The bow and arrow have appeared, the hunting dog, and an art of rock painting alive with vivid little forms: bowmen hunting and fighting, ritual scenes, dancers, sacrificial scenes. Whereas the paintings of the caves specialized in the forms of the animals of the hunt, here we discover a lively dance of human figures in a wonderfully vivid stickman style, developed with a sense for the composition of scenes and the rendition of movement. And whereas the art of the caves gave the magical, timeless atmosphere of the realm of myth, the happy hunting ground of eternity, and the operations therein of the archetypal shamans, here we have an atmosphere of life on earth and the ritual acts of living communities. We note, too, that women are prominent in the scenes, with elegantly rendered ample hips and legs, and willowy bodies, gracefully poised. The scenes are vibrant with the rhythms of the concerted action of groups. Not the shaman now, but the group is the vehicle of the holy power. The heartland of this new style was the grassy hunting ground of North Africa, where today there is only desert, and the type station is Capsa (Gafsa) in Tunisia.(128)

Rock art dating to 5000 BC corroborates what the radar equipment revealed. In Libya, Egypt, and Mali, petroglyphs depict not only grazing animals, but also aquatic life such as crocodiles. This indicates that the desert was inhabited during a time prior to 4000 BC and as far back as 8000 BC, when the climate was wet. (70)

 


The following phase in the Sahara, the Round Head paintings, shows little relationship to the animal engravings. In fact, the leader of the Tassili expedition, Henri Lhote, found the Round Head art so different from traditional forms of prehistoric art that "we felt we were moving about in a world that bore no relation to any other, a world apart." Many hundreds of these remarkable compositions have yet to be published, but already famous are the depictions of beings whimsically named "Martians" by Lhote. The painting from Sefar is typical of these portrayals; here several round-headed women seem to be in a sort of procession, hands raised in supplication to a huge central figure over ten feet high. Similar representations of these enormous beings appear at Jabbaren, a name which, as it means "the Giants, apparently was derived from the paintings. (115)

Not all of these works portray monstrous beings. Late in the Round Head period at Aouanrhet an exceptionally beautiful scene includes the silhouette of a woman running or dancing, with fringes falling from her knees, belt, and outstretched arms. Horns extend horizontally from either side of her head: a dotted area above was very tentatively interpreted as a cloud of grain falling from a wheat field. Her discoverers felt that this magnificent figure must have been either a goddess or a priestess, and saw a possible relationship to the Egyptian deity Isis, who, with Osiris, is credited in myth with introducing grain cultivation into the Nile valley. Mori believes that the Round Head series began very early and ended before the seventh millennium BC; others think it may have extended into the sixth millennium; in either case Lhote's estimation that the Round Head period as a whole must have lasted for several thousand years would indicate at least an eighth or ninth millennium beginning for the series. (115

Southwest Asia

 

Mureybet's tenth building level revealed the first clay female figurine known to the Near East, standing with arms under relatively small breasts in the classic pose assumed by numerous later likenesses around the eastern Mediterranean. (115)

The earliest known examples of 'lightly fired clay vessels' also come from Kurdistan. They were found at a site named Mureybet, in northern Syria, and radiocarbon tests have shown that these vessels date to around 8000 BC. At another site, Ganj Dara, near the Iranian town of Kermanshah in eastern Kurdistan, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of fired pottery and small clay figurines that date to the early eighth millennium BC...(149)

Egypt

 Rock art dating to 5000 BC corroborates what the radar equipment revealed. In Libya, Egypt, and Mali, petroglyphs depict not only grazing animals, but also aquatic life such as crocodiles. This indicates that the desert was inhabited during a time prior to 4000 BC and as far back as 8000 BC, when the climate was wet. (70)

Indus Valley

 

China

 

Europe

[At Asikli] In the darker recesses of the interior, Mellaart had found an elaborate and mystical ornamentation consisting of the skulls of the giant auroch (wild cattle) mounted on walls with a full spread of horns. He had also uncovered knobs that resembled the human breast with nipple erect, cracked open, and releasing a vulture. Empty eye sockets in jawless skulls of the village ancestors gazed out into the rooms from the tops of platforms. Creatures sculpted in bas-relief, such as a pair of facing leopards, adorned alcoves and recesses. The mother goddess representation greeted the observer with arms and legs outstretched from her protruding belly. (131)

Although the plastered walls were commonly dressed in murals of natural landscapes, such as the eruption of Hasan Dag or scenes showing hunters in the pursuit of deer and auroch, some paintings displayed the macabre practice of leaving a recently deceased and beheaded corpse on a rack outside the town for its flesh to be removed by vultures. According to Mellaart's interpretation, this practice of "excarnation" was carried out not for reasons of hygiene but as part of a rite of passage, leading from death to an afterworld. (131)

The sculpture at Catal Huyuk depicted the bonds between the mother and the untamed world through the juxtaposition of women and leopards, in which the birth-giving mother cradles the feline cubs or sits beside or on them. The prolific Neolithic art included erotic imagery of animal heads emerging from the vulva between the outspread legs of faceless human bodies with bulbous bellies and full breasts. For Hodder the painting and sculpture at Catal Huyuk had direct parallels in the Iron Gate shrine of Lepenski Vir set high on the cliff overlooking the Danube River. Carbon 14 dating indicates that these sites in Asia and Europe were contemporary. The symbolism is ubiquitous from Palestine to Europe in the millenniums preceding the Black Sea flood. (131)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 

Other