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Prehistoric art In the history of art, prehistoric art is all art produced in preliterate, prehistorical cultures beginning somewhere

in very late geological history, and generally continuing until that culture either develops writing or other methods

The very earliest human artifacts showing evidence of workmanship with an artistic purpose are a subject of some debate; it is clear that such workmanship existed by 40,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic era.

Prehistoric Culture The basic timeline of Prehistory is dominated by the so-called Old Stone Age or Paleolithic era, which lasted (roughly) from 1,600,000 until 10,000 BCE. It spans three periods: (1) Lower Paleolithic (2,500,000-200,000 BCE) (2) Middle Paleolithic (200,000-30,000 BCE) (3) Upper Paleolithic (40,000-10,000 BCE). After this comes a transitional phase called the Mesolithic period (sometimes known as epipaleolithic), ending with the spread of agriculture, followed by the Neolithic period (the New Stone Age) which witnessed the establishment of permanent settlements. The Stone Age ends as stone tools become superseded by the new products of bronze and iron metallurgy, and is followed by the Bronze and Iron ages.

Lower Paleolithic or Early Stone Age The Lower Paleolithic period, roughly between 1.5 million and 250,000 years ago, is when our hominine ancestors Homo erectus and Australopithecus lived on the earth. The Lower Paleolithic period (2.7 million to 200,000 years ago) is the first archaeology, that is to say, that period when the first evidence of what scientists consider human behaviors occurred.

The Middle Paleolithic period (ca 200,000 to 45,000 years ago or so) is the period during which Archaic humans including Homo sapiens neanderthalensis appeared and flourished all over the world. Hand axes continued in use, but a new kind of stone tool kit was created--called the Mousterian, it included purposefully prepared cores and specialized flake tools. The living method in the Middle Paleolithic for both Homo sapiens and our Neanderthal cousins included scavenging, but there is also clear evidence of hunting and gathering activities.

The Upper Paleolithic Revolution Anatomically modern humans first emerged around 100,000 years ago. However, thereafter there seems to have followed a period of around 60,000 years when the lifestyle of the modern humans changed little from that of their predecessors. It was not till around 40,000 years ago that the archaeological record reveals the emergence of technical and social advances which a modern human can understand as fundamentally like our own. This dramatic change is known as the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. The revolution comprised new technologies, hunting techniques, human burials and an artistic tradition of astonishing competency.

The Stone Age The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period during which humans widely used stone for tool making. Stone tools were made from a variety of different sorts of stone. For example, flint and The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period during which humans widely used stone for tool making. Stone tools were made from a variety of different sorts of stone. For example, flint and chert were shaped (or chipped) for use as cutting tools and weapons, while basalt and sandstone were used for ground stone tools, such as quern-stones.

The megalithic ruin known as Stonehenge stands on the open down land of Salisbury Plain two miles (three kilometers) west of the town of Amesbury, Wiltshire, in southern England. It consists of a series of earth, timber, and stone structures that were built, revised and re-modeled over a period of more than 1400 years.

The Venus of Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is an 11.1 cm (4 3/8 inches) high statuette of a female figure. It was discovered in 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathely at a Paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the city of Krems. It is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre.

Cave Paintings
The largest part of the cave paintings was found in Europe (from Spain up to the Ural). Naturally, on the walls of neglected caves with the entrances firmly blocked up thousands years ago, the paintings are in a good condition. During centuries the same temperature and humidity have been kept up in them. That is why, together with the cave paintings, other numerous evidences of the human activity are perfectly preserved, among them - distinct footprints of adults and, what is more impressive, of children on the wet floor of some caves.

Mesolithic Art
Otherwise known as "Middle Stone Age", the Mesolithic period covered a brief span of around 2,000 years. While it served as an important bridge between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic ages, the art of this period was, From this distance, it's not nearly as fascinating as the discovery of (and innovations in) the art of the preceding era. And the art of the subsequent Neolithic era is exponentially diverse, besides being more well-preserved and offering us thousands of examples of itself, instead of a "handful". Still, let's briefly cover the artistic events of the Mesolithic because, after all, it's a distinct era from any other.

This was a period when humans developed new techniques of stone working. At that time, people stayed longer in one place and gave increased attention to the domestication. There is a gap in the artistic activity of people of that epoch. Most of what has survived from the Mesolithic era is small statuette size works and paintings in shallow shelter caves. The rich art of the Paleolithic is replaced by a Mesolithic art that is quite different. There are many changes in style as well as meaning. Upper Paleolithic cave art depicts colored drawings and expressive features of animals. A full range of color is used. Mesolithic art in contrast is schematic; no realistic figures are present and only the color red is used. This form is also found in North Africa and the northern Mediterranean.

Neolithic Art After the rather ho-hum art of the Mesolithic era, art in the Neolithic (literally: "new stone") age represents a spree of hellzapoppin' innovation. Humans were settling themselves down into agrarian societies, which left them enough spare time to explore some key concepts of civilization - namely, religion, measurement, the rudiments of architecture and writing and, yes, art.

The "new" arts to emerge from this era were weaving, architecture, the construction of megaliths and increasingly stylized pictographs that were well on their way to becoming writing. The earlier arts of statuary, painting and pottery stuck with (and still remain with) us. The Neolithic era saw many refinements to each. Statuary (primarily statuettes), made a big comeback after having been largely absent during the Mesolithic age. Its Neolithic theme dwelt primarily on the female/fertility, or "Mother Goddess" imagery (quite in keeping with agriculture, this). There were still animal statuettes, however these weren't lavished with the detail the goddesses enjoyed. They are often found broken into bits - perhaps indicating that they were used symbolically in hunting rituals.

The Neolithic art created 5,000 years ago bears a series of mysterious shapes, including concentric circles, interlocking rings and hollowed cups. The finds, around Northumberland and Durham, are particularly exciting as many of the nation's prehistoric carvings have been lost to natural erosion and human activities such as quarrying and field clearance. Although they are not in caves, many of the sites are barely accessible, accounting for their having lain undiscovered for thousands of years.

Iron Age
In archaeology, the Iron Age is the prehistoric period in any area during which cutting tools and weapons were mainly made of iron or steel. The adoption of this material coincided with other changes in society, including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs and artistic styles.

The Iron Age is the last principal period in the three-age system for classifying prehistoric societies, preceded by the Bronze Age and the Stone Age. Its dates and context vary depending on the geographical region. The Iron Age in each area ends with the beginning of the historical period, i.e. the local production of ample written sources. Thus, for instance, the British Iron Age ends with the Roman Conquest.

The term "Iron Age" was originally derived from the "Ages of Man", i.e. the ages of human existence on the Earth according to Classical mythology. While the earlier ages in this scheme are entirely mythical ("The Golden Age" and the "Silver Age"), the later Bronze Age and Iron Age of classical mythology preserve the memory of actual periods when the metals mentioned dominated human life.