Cave Art

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas about the Stone Age people who created the extraordinary images found in caves around the world, from hand outlines to abstract symbols to the multicoloured paintings of prey animals at Chauvet and, as shown above, at Lascaux. In the 19th Century, it was assumed that only humans could have made these, as Neanderthals would have lacked the skills or imagination, but new tests suggest otherwise. How were the images created, were they meant to be for private viewing or public spaces, and what might their purposes have been? And, if Neanderthals were capable of creative work, in what ways were they different from humans? What might it have been like to experience the paintings, so far from natural light?

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  • Alistair Pike No other episodes
    Professor of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Southampton
  • Chantal Conneller No other episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Early Pre-History at Newcastle University
  • Paul Pettitt No other episodes
    Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Durham University

Reading list

  • The Splendour of Lascaux: Rediscovering the Greatest Treasure of Prehistoric Art
    Norbert Aujoulat (Thames and Hudson, 2005) Google Books →
  • Journey through the Ice Age
    Paul G. Bahn (W&N, 1997) Google Books →
  • Cave Art: A Guide to the Decorated Ice Age Caves of Europe
    Paul G. Bahn (Frances Lincoln, 2012) Google Books →
  • Images of the Ice Age
    Paul G. Bahn (Oxford University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • What is Palaeolithic Art?: Cave Paintings and the Dawn of Human Creativity
    Jean Clottes (University of Chicago Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves
    Jean Clottes and David Lewis-Williams (Harry N. Abrams, 1998) Google Books →
  • Cave Art
    Bruno David (Thames and Hudson, 2017) Google Books →
  • The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art
    David Lewis-Williams (Thames and Hudson, 2004) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000mqn7

Episode page:

Auto-category: 930.1 (Archaeology of prehistoric periods)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1940, a dog called Robot fell into a hole at Lascaux in the Dordogne.