Spiritual culture in the sculpture of the Paleolithic

After "Anthropomorphic Paleolithic sculpture"( (see Editorial 2012, part fourth of Shapes in Evolution series, two other "jewel-studies" are added to the Series, not to be missed by scholars of Paleolithic sculpture, fruit of the passion of a lifetime and of the great competence and experience of one of the greatest contemporary researchers and experts of Paleolithic sculpture, Pietro Gaietto.

His last book, "Sacred animals in Paleolithic Sculpture" (, March 2013) is of particular interest, since it describes with images the evolution of the Paleolithic sculpture in the post-Paleolithic religious sculpture, up to our days.

Gaietto defines them "sacred animals" (even if undoubtedly some were necessary for the feeding), in how much they testify that the man has felt the necessity to represent them, therefore attributing them a character of sacrality (see the successive evolution in totem animals or in deities with mixed animal and human features of the historical civilizations).

The sacred animals represented in the Paleolithic sculpture are mostly mammals, therefore catalogued by species, and precisely the mammoth, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, the lion, the leopard, the horse, the elk, the goat, the bison, the bull, the bear, the dog, the seal. Apart from and more generically the bird, the fish and the snake, without interpretation of species, being impossible and not useful.

Alongside the images of the Paleolithic sculptures, for a useful comparison, those of the sacred sculptures of the historical periods. Moreover, we find photographs of living animals, that demonstrate like their features do not differ much from those of their more ancient progenitors of the Paleolithic.

Equally important, also by Pietro Gaietto, is an immediately preceding book, the ""Catalog of the Gaietto Collection of Paleolithic European Sculpture"(Lulu com, June 2012).

In the Catalog are for the first time published the photographs of 222 sculptures of the Gaietto Collection, a precious document for the scholars of Paleolithic sculpture, whose provenances are also indicated: Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Turkey.

Moreover, the sculptures are presented with their cataloguing number, through clear black and white and color photographs. Many of them are enriched by explanatory drawings that show their various sides, allowing to better appreciate their composition and structure and to read them without difficulties, also by the less expert reader or by who wants to learn the rudiments of the research on the field.

The book, last but not less extraordinary characteristic, is precious also because it allows the identification of the most diffused human types in Europe during the Paleolithic, testifying the coexistence of different species.

Licia Filingeri (Editor)
Genova, July 2013


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Copyright©2000-2013 by Paleolithic Art Magazine, all right