PALEOLITHIC ART MAGAZINE


EUROPE AND MIDDLE EAST



GENERAL CLASSIFICATION OF PALEOLITHIC ART

Pietro Gaietto


There are two types of Paleolithic art: three-dimensional (lithic sculpture), and two-dimensional (engraving on bone and painting on the wall).

These two different types of art have territorial origins and represent different religious actions, and even when these two civilizations in Europe lived in a same region, there has never been intermingling as belonging to two worlds very different psychologically and spiritually.

In the Upper Paleolithic (from 28,000 to 12,000 years ago) the two-dimensional art is widespread in Western Europe, particularly in France (Lascaux cave, Font-de-Gaume, Cosquer ecc.) and in Spain ( Altamira cave, las Manos, El Castillo etc.) with depictions of animals, generally in motion, of the highest artistic quality in composition, style and color.

In this type of two-dimensional art man is not depicted.

The depiction of only the animals allows to detect that these civilizations had no gods, and that their religion, not yet understood, was probably largely connected to rites of propitiation for hunting.

I place the two-dimensional Paleolithic art in a hypothetical "Eastern Civilization", yet to be determined, in transit in Europe.

The three-dimensional art of the Paleolithic (lithic sculpture) is less well known that the zoomorphic paintings in cave, but has been most studied. Personally, I believe that it represents the "Western civilization."

In my opinion, the paleolithic sculpture was in function of the religion, and was of four types, as depicting four different types of gods that we find throughout the lower, middle and upper Paleolithic.

The geographical distribution, ascertained by origin and evolution, is Europe and the Middle East.

The best known deity is the sculpture of a naked woman with no feet , called by palaeontologists "Venus" (Fig.1), which can be interpreted either as a "fertility goddess" and as "goddess of love".


Fig.1 First type: Naked woman (Venus of Savignano). Savignano sul Panaro, Modena (Italy). Pigorini Museum, Rome.

In Neolithic Age and Metals Age, many sculptures of naked women (evolution of those of the Paleolithic) are called "mother goddess". This definition seems to me inappropriate, as a "mother goddess" must have a child in her arms.

The second type is the sculpture of human head two-faced (two human heads joined for the nape) (Fig.2), which can also be two-headed and three-headed.

This type, in the post-Paleolithic ages, is considered a god.


Fig.2 Second type. Bifrontism (two-headed human head of Campoligure). Campoligure, Genoa (Italy). Collection Gaietto.



The third type is the sculpture of the head of an animal (Fig.3) which in mammals can be represented with a body part. The sacred animal.


Fig.3 Third type. Animal Head (mammoth). Rodi Garganico, Foggia (Italy). Collection Gaietto.



The fourth type is the sculpture with two-faced head of man and animal (Fig.4), two-faced head of animal with animal, and the artistic hybrid having mixed characters man-animal and also animal-animal.


Fig.4 Two-faced (two-faced head bird-man of Vesima). Genoa, loc.Vesima (Italy). Collection Gaietto.



These four types of gods are always present in 12,000 years of post-Paleolithic. They are recognizable even in complex compositions of aesthetic type, and also of religious type (demons, sphinxes, sirens and so on), as well in a wide variety of artistic styles which may deform the image with reduction in organs or addition of decorations.




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