Spiritual culture in the Paleolithic sculpture

After " Paleolithic anthropomorphic sculpture "( (see Editorial 2012, part fourth of Shapes in Evolution series , are added to the Series two other “studies-jewel” not to be missed for the scholars of the Paleolithic sculpture, result of a lifelong passion, great expertise and experience of one of the leading researchers and experts in the contemporary sculpture of the Paleolithic, Pietro Gaietto.

His latest book, "The sacred animals in the sculpture of the Paleolithic" (, March 2013) is of particular interest, because it describes through images the evolution of the paleolithic sculpture in post-Palaeolithic religious sculpture to the present.

Gaietto defines them as "sacred animals" (although some undoubtedly needed for food), as evidenced by the fact that man has felt the need to represent them, then giving them a sacred character (see the next evolution in animals - totem or in gods with mixed animal and human features of the historical civilizations).

The sacred animals depicted in paleolithic sculpture are mostly mammals, then categorized by species, namely the mammoth, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lion, leopard, horse, elk, goat, bison, bull, bear, dog, seal. Aside from the bird and, more generally, the fish and the snake, without interpretation of species, what is impossible and not useful.

Alongside the images of paleolithic sculptures, for a useful comparison, those of the sacred sculptures of historical times. In addition, there are photographs of living animals, which show that their features do not differ much from those of their ancient ancestors of the Paleolithic.

Equally important, always by Pietro Gaietto, a book immediately preceding, the "Catalogue of the European Paleolithic Sculpture Gaietto's Collection" (Lulu com, June 2012).

In the Catalog for the first time are published the photographs of 222 sculptures of the Gaietto's Collection, a valuable document for scholars of paleolithic sculpture, which also shows the provenance: Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Turkey.

In addition, the sculptures are presented with their catalog number, through sharp photos in color and black and white. Many are enriched by explanatory drawings that show the various sides, allowing us to better appreciate the composition and structure and to read without difficulty, even by the reader less experienced or by those who want to learn the basics of research in the field.

The book, last but not the least extraordinary feature, is also valuable because it allows the identification of the most common types of men in Europe during the Paleolithic, bearing witness to the coexistence of different species.

Licia Filingeri (Editor)
Genova, july 2013


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