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Int. j. econ. manag. soc. sci., Vol(3), No (12), December, 2014. pp.


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Pre-historic Cave Images of Lorestan (Iran)

Hojat Allah Hassanvand *
Graphic department, Islamic Azad university, Sahneh, Iran.

Atefeh Niromand
Graphic department, Islamic Azad university, Sahneh, Iran.
*Corresponding author:



Cave painting

The simple tools, animal images and the hunter chasing the hunt are the most important images on the
prehistoric cave walls. These images are resulted from abstract painting and to some extent express their
owners feeling, needs and life styles.
The prehistoric Lorestan (Iran) cave images are of these simple, abstract images remaining from cave mans.
The objective of this research is to study the probability of the images language in spatial and temporal
limits of doing these works and also to introduce them to the world. So we can use this to make real the
hypothesis about the earliest residents in this land. In the present research referring to expert theories and
field studies the aesthetic interest of its authors and reference to the symbolic aspect of animal elements in
latter periods and the probable reasons of painting the images are presented.

As a most of the prehistoric human communications had been in a form of visual signs like color, form, design, symbols and signs, so it is
reasonable to say that from the early social life the use of these signs had been necessary and they had been inevitable. These signs which are
here called image tracked tow ideas.
1- Narrate their owners life environment and their basic needs. For instance they talk about hunting and demonstrate daily events.
2- They showed their magic beliefs and emotional needs.
Undoubtedly, one of the prominent manifestations of the early humans culture and civilization which had been ignored in Iran are Lorestan cave
paintings that based on evidence with several thousand years ago they can be served as the oldest prehistoric human works.
Lorestan natural geography : Lorestan is Located at west-sought of Iran among high mountains with natural glaciers and wet valleys and an
compatible nature is one of the oldest periods up to now and it has been an ecosystem for human, animals, trees and plants and it is one of the
four biological regions in Middle East1 (Figure 1,2).
In general, about 85% of its surface is covered by mountains; the average height of mountains is 1700m. Of its important mountains it can point
to Oshtrankooh and sefidkooh with 4050n and 2931m height respectively.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

The human community backgrounds in Lorestan and its early residents

In 1945 for the first time in Iran Mr. Girsheman excavated a cave at pabd strait at Bakhtiari located at east-north of shoshtar and he found
some residue of prehistoric mans back to 10-15 thousand years B.D.
But in studies by faculty of rice university and Cambridge since 1343 to 1348 H.A), the oldest stone works of Hamian mountain at north of
kohdasht (Figure 2) and some parts of Roomeshkan plain and also of kanji cave in Paleolithic period, and Masteri strain (the first
habitations in Zagros at stone weapon period and triangle shaped tools) return back to 40 thousand years ago have been recognized. (Table 1)
In latter periods, non- native tribes entered Lorestan from other areas. But it shows the works on the regions cave walls to Ashkani period. The
aacademic texts present the presence of Kassite tribe at the early second millennium. Kassites were horse riding and warier tribes. Since 19
century, Ashors began some wars in Zagros. At 17th and18th centuries B.D, this land was occupied by Simers and Kassites from sought Russia.
Then other Iranian tribes were habituated in this area from which Medes are prominent. This tribe were resided near Malayer at Nooshijan hill
were powerful between 725 to 550 AH.2

- Izad panah, Hamid, 1376, Volume I, p 17


Pre-historic Cave Images of Lorestan (Iran)

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(3), No (12), December, 2014.

Table 1. Prehistoric social life in Zagros

Baradosti Zebarin
Baradosti Zirin

10000-20000 (B.C.)
20000-30000 (B.C.)
30000-38000 (B.C.)
38000-50000 (B.C.)

The Lorestan caves paintings

Generally, these images are in form of collective scenes bellow big rocks in outstanding and flat states in the cave walls in this region. Hence
they have spent most of their time to hunt. If they didnt succeed in hunting, they were caught with hunger. So, if they were successful in hunting
they tended to non-bodily actions which helped them in hunting. They were extraordinary forces which help hunters to do a good hunting.
Probably the earliest form of it can be seen in drawing the hunts image while it was in trap or at a point weaker than the hunters position. So the
hunters could ensured a part of their confidence in overcoming the hunt (Figures 3,4).
A great part of the early tribe lived at plains and they were permanent by hunting to supply primary food needs. The image of a walking hunter,
the image of two riding persons chasing some gazelles, a few riding and walking hunters fighting with arc and spear, the image of two persons
with long clothes and hats, the image of a victim escaping from an animal similar to the dog, all are elements and issues form the available
paintings remaining from natural damages and mans destruction during their thousand years life time. These works have variable sizes and they
range from 4 to 40cm in individual images and 50-60 cm in collective hunting scene size. The images are mainly in form of simple lines or
surfaces which show a generality of the image.
They show the states of attack, escape in a harmonic way naturalistically.
The main images in paintings:

The horse and rider image

Human image
Hunting dog

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9-10

1. Images of the horse and human: As the food preparation during hunting needs high bodily power, this had been done by men. The difficult
environmental conditions of the region required strong men who could prepare victims food. Thus the remaining images, show the warlike men
(Figure 5,7).
2. The image of dog: from archaeological findings and historical texts it is inferred that the use of the dog has an old history.Among dogs which
are mentioned in Avesta3, the booty one is called Vohunazga which is a combination of the word Vohuna means blood fromga
infinitive means being, going, chasing, tracking. "Vohunazga" means tracking blood, smell blood4 "
Among images on the prehistoric cave walls in Lorestan, the image of the booty dog can be characterized clearly. This shows the effective role
and the permanent companionship of the dog with human from past to present the well.(Figure 8).
3. Antelope: This animal had been always painted being hunted or escaping. In most cases the dexterity attribute and its life style had been
ignored in its drawing. (Figure 9)
In latter historic periods, in Mehri customs and Lorestan metal period. 5
The antelope has always been protected as a symbol of fertility by goddesses. This can be well understood by studying metal made s.
4. Gazelle: This image is seen less and in cases in form of a single- image
It isnt certain that whether the issue is hunting or not. Gazelle in letter periods was a symbol of darkness overcoming lightening and this had
been fully related to the dead s burial (Figure 10).
5. Weapon and tools: Studying the paintings and the presence of the weapons and tools in hunting scenes tools like arc, short and long spears
and stone can be observed.

-kabiri, 1356
- Iran's religious book Rdtshtyan
-Poor davood, 1355, p 214
- Civilization during the caveman era Lorestan

Hojat Allah Hasanvand *, Atefeh Niromand


International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(3), No (12), December, 2014.

The painters customs and beliefs

In religion, there isnt enough information about cavemen beliefs and customs. Indeed, there is no evidence to prove that people in hunting age
followed God, goddess or any custom.

Researchers opinions about dateline of Lorestan cave paintings:

Mr.Izad panah in his book "Lorestan history and archaeological works" writes After discovery of Mir Melas and Hamian. Paintings I
sent some Slides of them to professor Girshmin in France to give his opinion. He replieded that I suppose that these paintings had been
drawn by Lorestan habitants in periods which the man had been lived in a food searching mode that is periods several thousand years before the
valleys dried and man could feel down the mountain and lived out of it6
Professor Mc Borni The archaeology master in England Cambridge University after visiting caves at January 1969 said that s
The paintings on the rocks in koohdasht are similar to the discovered paintings in east- Spain and it returns back to the prehistory.
All the painting are on the intense highlands and some kilometers from south- west koohdasht and they are aligned in a circle-shape queue7
The last research about hunting period
Professor M.c Borni ha stated that: The most important point is the unexpected discovery of the residues from middle Paleolithic period in
Homian which narrates Moosteri culture, this improves the hope that some information can be collected about peoples life style at hunting period
and the climate in west part of Iran about 40000 to 60000 years ago8

Discussion and conclusion:

Archeologists ,anthropologists and historians interpreted the prehistoric period arts differently. When the works by Lasko and Altamira were
discovered, it was believed that the aesthetic interest is exist in them. Later the theory of magic utilization of this art was validated to remove
and facilitate hunting or increase animals9 The lack of fixed food resources for a long time had made this form of life that is hunting
unchangeable and inevitable. In face it formed the main aspect of the man's life. Therefore his arts served to his functional life. It tended him
towards works in which it provided more simple life. For this reason his artistic topic was hunting and its composition were animals, tools and
his imaginations himself (hunter) while he dominated the victim.
Regarding the mentioned probabilities about the reasons these topics had been drawn, and according to the " Tylor survival principle", the
residue of such a behaviors is yet observed in Iran public culture and through the world10 Certainly, hunting animals like goat and gazelle with
spear or saw or arc in all its forms increased the man's capability to use weapons and natural forces to survive. Thus, any probability can
accepted with enough reasons but not by considerable discrepancy of what is presented in this research.


Izad panah, Hamid, 1376, an Introduction to the archeological and historical works in Lorestan, edition 1, The assembly of works and cultural figures.
Izad panah, Hamid, 1376, an Introduction to the archealogical and historical works in Lorestan, edition 2, The assembly of works and cultural figures.
Farhadi, Morteza, 1377, Muslims in wind, first edition, Tehran, Allameh Tabatabai university publication.
Poordavood, Abdolah, 1355, The ancient Iran culture, Tehran university.
His, H.R. 1340, The history of anthropology, Tehran, Ibnsina publication.
Sohrabi, Mohammad, 1376, Lorestan and history of casit tribe, Lorestan, Aflak publication.
Hol, Faranak, 1381, archeology at prehistoric period in south- west Iran. Tehran. Samt.
Girshmin, Roman, 1381, I ran from the beginning to Islam, Mohammed Moin translation, Tehran, cultural- scientific publication.
Shishegar, Arman, 1384, The study of Lorestan metal works and its influence on Achaemenian period metallurgy with the consideration of the available
samples in Tehran museums, M.A thesis, painting major, Tarbiat Modares university.
Kabiri, Mojtaba, 1356.

- Izad panah, Volume III, 1376, p 360

- Izad panah, Volume III, 1376, p 360
-Izad panah, Volume III, 1376, p 358
- Farhadi, 1377, p 213
- AH. BC. Hayes, 1340, p 103,106