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Our ancestors scratched their stories into stone walls. These inscriptions and images became one of our first forms of communication. While our forms of expression may have changed, our innate desire to decorate blank walls has not. Primitive cave writing and painting has evolved into the complex language that we speak, read and write today…
Millions of years ago
Dating back to 40’000 years ago, the Cro–Magnons – or the first early modern humans, lived in the European Upper Palaeolithic or late stone age. Around from about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, they bought with them an army of skills including those to engrave, paint and sculpture. They began to engrave on walls of caves and these inscriptions became one of the most well-known forms of primitive communication. After all, it was millions of years ago that we lived in caves – so we may as well have decorated them!
So, how did they do it, you may ask?
Well, through cave painting. Images known as Petroglyphs are created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking and carving. The word “petra” means “stone”, and glyphein meaning “to carve”, and was originally coined in French as pétroglyphe. Some petroglyphs date back to the late Upper Paleolithic boundary, about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Often the most common themes found in these cave paintings were animals such as bison and horses. A wide speculation is that cave paintings from the pre-historic times are the work of respected elders or shamans. The meanings of these drawings are still widely unknown however it is believed that these had different meanings to each human using them at the time. The paintings often contained primitive life, stories or instructions directed to others.
Later on, around 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, other forms of writing such as pictographs and ideograms began to appear. It is from here that we developed our language that we are so familiar with today. Now we have so many different ways of communication and equipment to do so. We have slowly progressed from scratching on caves as our only form of expression to millions of ways. After all we have speech, language, paintings, computers. In the art world, there are hundreds of types of brushes, styles and even digital art which we use as a form of expression.
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