Pietro Gaietto

The researches on the origin of the art are begun with Jacques Boucher de Perthes in the first decades of the 800s.
The first findings by Boucher de Perthes were anthropomorhic and zoomorphic sculptures (or presumed such) in silex. His studies have produced some followers who have been very active, both in the research, and publications, in the first half of the 900s: they were A.Thieullen, W.M. Newton, J. Dharvent; in the second half of the 900s A. Juritzky, O. Menghin, A. Rust, G. Steffens, Ph. Héléna, W. Matthes. Between these, I am also, but I must specify that I have begun my researches without knowing nothing of my predecessors. Subsequently of these illustrious researchers, I have found their publications in the main libraries of western Europe and New York; while in all the books of " introduction to the Paleolithic ", published in the second half of the 900s, I have not found a pointing out about sculpture of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic.
Also on the Web, until today, there is no trace of sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic, except the site of the Museum of the Origins of Man, that I have founded, and this site of Paleolithic Art Magazine.

Nearly all the academic scholars more aware about paleolithic art, between 1940 and 1960, have asserted that the feminine figurines (Venus) and the zoomorphic paintings in cave of the upper Paleolithic are mature art and in many different styles, so they cannot be considered the origin of the art; assuming consequently that there was a more ancient art... still to find! However, very little of these researchers have been preoccupied to carry out a research between the sculptures in stone of the lower and middle Paleolithic discovered in the first half of the 900s. Who has made it, evidently, has made a superficial analysis, resolved with the generic declaration: " the science must be prudent ", but really he has demonstrated insufficient desire to resolve the problem of the origins of the art.

Today, between the old palethnologists, the memory has extinguished itself; the young palethnologists, instead, do not know about it, in how much the sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic is not present in the scholastic books. For a re-start of the search on the origins of the art, it is necessary that the young palethnologists, i.e. those people who know the techniques of working of the paleolithic lithic tools, take care theyselves of the sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic, because only the aknowledge of the working techniques allows to establish if a anthropomorphic or zoomorphic sculpture is true, or false, i.e.accidental.


Front-lateral view (side A and side B). Measures: width cm. 9.2, height cm. 5.8, thickness cm. 5.5, weight kg. 0.300. The sculpture represents a human head (side A on the left) and another one of mammal (side B on the right) joined by the nape. Obtained from a nodule of silex with very much traces of the original skin, while the clear zone, between the nose and the chin, is the inner color of the silex. The eye is in common to the two heads ( see also drawing Fig. 8); the represented human type is similar to a presapiens. Attributed to the evolued Acheulean.

The zooanthropomorphic sculpture that I introduce (Fig. 1) is obtained from a nodule of silex, with abundant traces of the original skin; but however, it is not from less than other sculptures that are worked completely from every part, in how much the final result is the same.
The presence of this skin on the sculpture, at the first approach, can introduce some difficulty of interpretation, but if we want really to understand these sculptures, we must analyze all the types, exactly like with the lithic tools, where there are those typical and " beautiful ones ", and those atypical , and " less beautiful ones ", that is those that to the profane do not seem even tools.

The analysis of this sculpture is divided in 22 points:
- typology of the representation
- finding place
- difficulty of interpretation
- chronology
- typologiy of the perspective
- physical anthropology
- head of the animal
- the eye
- nodules and pebbles of silex
- typology of the technology
- the color in the inside of the stone
- damaging from flowing
- intentional portrait
- composition and shape
- typology of the style
- religion
- bifrontism
- zoomorphic divinity
- cults
- rituals
- symbol
- aesthetic

This is a two-faced zooantropomorphic lithic sculpture, in how much represents joined a human head to one of animal with an only nape.
In the evolued Acheulean two-faced anthropomorhic sculptures also exist, that represent joined two human heads with an only nape.

This sculpture is from Rodi Garganico, cape Gargano (Province of Foggia, Italy). Found in an alluvial layer, with tools of silex of several cultural phases, and in great amount, transported in confusion by the waters.

In the paleolithic artefacts the interpretation is about what looks at, and what it is not looked at.
We want to analyze what is looked at, going back to the origin of the first scientific discoveries.
Jacques Boucher de Perthes pointed the attention of the scientific world on the sculptures in silex and the tools of the lower and middle Paleolithic, and also on the tools of successive periods. As it is known, before that Boucher de Perthes died, science acquired only some types of tools, and did not pronounce himself about the art.
Boucher de Perthes made for all his life, as people say today, a " promotional campaign " for his discoveries, in how much he found large resistances for the acceptance, both of the sculptures, and of the tools. Today all is changed ; the palethnologists show the paleolithic tools without fear of being refuted. A tool shown in a museum, or published in a book with cue, is accepted by the public, but not always, indeed, nearly never, it is understood.
Many times I have experimented, also with persons of culture, which however did not know the paleolithic tools, than putting in their hand a scraping or a levalloisian blade, they was unbeliever to consider them human tools. Experiments, that instead I have made with the sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic, in occasion of many exhibitions, have demonstrated that the person of culture understands better a sculpture than a tool. With the photography, there are difficulties of interpretation for the sculpture, and are many, but the first difficulty is the prejudgment aimed to the refusal. If the observer does not have interest to the problem of the origins of the art, in a sculpture views a accidentally anthropomorhic or zoomorphic stone and nothing other.
My advice to who truly is interested in the sculpture, is to make search in the paleolithic layers of surface (in Europe are thousand), and he will find sure, as I too find. The same also for the tools. I have begun to understand the tools finding them in surface layers. It needs to whirl the tool in hand like a small sculpture.
This sculpture of Rodi Garganico (Fig. 1 and following) is one of the most difficult to interpret, but also one of the more intersting.


Lateral-posterior view (side B and side A). The mammal head (side B) is nearly entirely flaked, while the human head (side A), being in semifrontal view, from this part has not been worked, and there is the skin of the nodule. The mammal head has from this part, and in tip of the snout, a removal of material from the top towards the bottom, looked at also in the other photography (Fig. 4), from which the hypothesis of the head of a ruminant, rather than of a lion .

The attribution to the evolued Acheulean is based on the affinity of the technique of working (that is, of the technology of detachment of the flakes in order to make the wished shape) which has been attributed to the lithic tools found in the zone by the palethnologists, during the researches of the second half of the 900s. It is based also on the dating attributed to the represented human type, on the typologic affinities attributed to other sculptures of this cultural phase, and on the affinities of the light flowing with typical tools found associated.
In the Gargano, the evolued or ending Acheulean has been developed during the rissian glaciation and before 350,000 years ago.
Therefore this sculpture is not more ancient than this date.

The human head must be seen in semifrontal perspective. The mammal head can be seen from three parts: on one side, from the other side, and frontally.

The human head (Fig. 1, side A) is lacking in forehead, or at least it has escaping forehead. The nose begins from the zone of the mouth, and is at the center of the face that is wide. The face is frontal, and semifrontal. The head has the chin, but it seems that it has also the beard, and this desumes also viewing it from the bottom, where all the shape of the jaw is looked at .
The jaw is excavated under (Fig. 3, side A); it is in order to evidence it, and for giving a detach from the head of the animal that is joined by the nape. This human type is similar, for the width of the face, and the chin, and perhaps the beard, to the " presapiens " represented in the sculpture of Maribo, described in this magazine on " A two-faced anthropomorphic lithic sculpture of lower Paleolithic of Denmark ". Generally it is attributed to the evolued Acheulean Homo erectus (which does not have chin), but it is necessary to have in mind that in the evolued Acheulean, which is lasted approximately 300,000 years, there are not skeletal humans findings, therefore it is hypothetical, and credible for me, that they have been formed men of presapiens type with chin, otherwise the chin would have been not represented in this sculpture, as even in that of Maribo.


Human face (side A) In order to understand the human type, that I consider a presapiens, it is necessary to view four photographies, which correspond nearly to the wirling of the sculptures in the hand: - to see the lateral profile of the head (Fig. 1 side A), - to see this face frontally (Fig.3), - to see the face or semifrontal head (Fig.10, colored for experimentation), - to see the side view under (Fig. 5 side A), which puts in evidence the shape of the jaw and the chin. Probably it is the representation of a man with beard. It is a sculpture accurately worked, but a part of the face, little influencing, since the perspective is semifrontal, conserves the original skin of the pebble of silex.

In the sculpture of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic the representations of heads of animals are much rare in comparison with the human representation of heads. The sculptures of heads of single or two-faced animals, that are little, represent great mammals (bovine, equine, feline) or birds, therefore, given the fragmentation, cannot be made typologies. In the mammals with the horns, these do not are represented, as they do not are represented the ears, both in the man and in the animal, as does not are represented the feet in the feminine figurines (Venus) of the upper Paleolithic. Therefore, if not there are the horns, it is lacking an important indication, for attribute to a species rather than to an other. In beyond 40 years of researches, on a great number of findings, I have identify with a sure precision, through the representation of the head, the several human types represented in sculpture, also when there is stylistic deformation, but on the heads of animals I can say little, in how much I am little documented. The head of mammal (Fig. 1, side B), however, could be a head of lion with close mouth and snout stylistically lengthened; but it could also be a ruminant without the horns. The issues as this could be resolved the day when other sculptures of this typology will be found . That day, probably, would come when the palethnologists will have exausted their interest for the tools, and will begin to make searches about the sculpture. I hope that this task for them will arouse enthusiasm, as it has been and it is until today for me. The material does not lack, and it is not difficult to find, it needs only to search.

The nodule of silex of this sculpture, before to have been used by the man, has had a formation in two stages, in how much before has been formed a total skin, and then a second skin (equally hard) from ground filling in two sinkings of the nodule, over the previous skin The man who has made the sculpture, has found the nodule in these conditions.
In the photography (Fig. 1), we can see the second skin with almond shape (see also drawing Fig. 8), that seems an eye in common, both to the human, and the animal head. In the two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures of historical ages, and in the ethnography, the eye in common for two heads is frequent. In the case of this sculpture, it can be assumed that the shape as almond of the second skin has been used like eye, exactly like have been used other shapes of the nodule. Undoubtedly, the eye is an enrichment of this representation, because generally it is constituted from a flaked sinking, that I define orbital zone. In the sculptures in silex the eye all the time has been difficult to represent for technical reasons, while they have been better evidenced other parts of the face and of the head. In the photography (Fig. 2), in an other sinking of the snout of the animal, there is the other filling of the second skin, that however does not have infuence in the representation. However, this vision is the back of the sculpture, and it can be considered of secondary importance, even if the snout of the animal is more worked from this part that from the other.


Snout of the animal (side B). The head of this animal is more tightened of the human head, of which is view the clear skin of the nodule of silex , which belongs to the human head. The modelling of this carved snout is of technical high-quality, if we consider the sequence of the removals of the silex through a percussor of wood or bone, in how much is completely rounded off.

The nodules of silex can be small or large, and have crazy shapes.
The pebbles of silex are generally small, lengthened, and more narrow that round, and their shape is due to the tumbling for the action of the marine waves on the beach.
Both the nodules and the pebbles of silex have a wrinkled and opaque skin, less hard of their inside. The zones where the silex is found in Europe can be with single nodules, or with single pebbles, or, like in the zone around Rodi Garganico, with nodules, and with pebbles.
In the years from 1940 to1960, in the books of " introduction to the Paleolithic ", on the wake of the resonance of flaked sculptures found in the 50s and in more previous years, often it was made reference to " nodules with anthropomorphic or zoomorphic natural shapes that the man retouched for improove the shape ", and there was also some photography; even if these were considered doubtful shapes. These concepts were easy to accept for the unprovided one, but they were lacking in every logical foundation. In fact, the sculpture, like the tools, is inserted in very rigid typology, where very little it is allowed to the case. About the use of the nodules and pebbles, I will give my ulterior interpretations here, in the part that concerns the " typology of technology "


View from under (Side A and side B) The side A is the jaw of the presapiens, while the side B is the frontal part of the head of the mammal. The jaw is grooved of 5 millimeters in the central part. All the surface of the silex, view in this photography, has been worked, and all the edges have an uninterrupted removal of silex of the width from 3 to 7 millimeters, in perfect state of conservation, but some touches from alluvial tumbling.

The technique of working for the creation of this sculpture is typical of the evolued Acheulean, as the technique that I have described for the two-faced anthropomorphic sculpture of Maribo ( see in this magazine: A two-faced anthropomorphic lithic sculpture of Lower Paleolithic of Denmark).
The particularitity of this sculpture (I am showing it just for this reason) is to have been obtained from a nodule of silex with crazy shape, where the most part of the original skin appears, which to the profane could appear as a sculpture, whose shape is consequence of the previous shape, and therefore, negative consequence (under the aspect of the quality), if we do not understand that the final result is intentional .
Also in the tools it is possible to find great part of the original skin of the nodule or the pebble, but, if it is analyzed well, the tool is perfect.
The choice of the stone for shape and dimension in order to make sculptures or tools is integrating part of the technology; that is, it is the first phase of the developing idea. It is recognized that, in order to make a bifaced tool (Fig. 7), the man choses the pebble more proper for shape and dimension; it was enough to flake partially it, in order to make it pointed and cutting, conserving intact the part for handle, that it found already made. Therefore, a preordered mental design, as it happens today also for every jwork.
The same also for the sculptures; in fact, when there was the possibility to find nodules of silex with shapes that could shorten the work, these were used, but the final result in the anthropomorphic or zoomorphic representation was the same, as if the sculpture had been obtained from a pebble whithout this possibility, and therefore the work engaged more time.
The details of working of this sculpture are described in the cues of the photographies.

In this sculpture (from Fig.1 to Fig. 6) the skin of the nodule of silex is light hazel; while the silex flaked under the skin it is dark brown. The silex in the inside of the nodule has several tonalities of color between which the clear gray prevails.
The man who has made the sculpture did not know that in the inside there was an other color. Studying the sculpture from years, I do not give importance to the color, i.e. to the several colors that a same sculpture of silex can have, in how much only the shape interests me. Who, instead, sees in photography a sculpture in silex with several colors, remains confuseed; and there is also who, not knowing the technology of fabrication, is disposed to see in the colors some figures which do not exist, that have not been intentional, that moreover are disturbing in order to understand the true representation, that is the carved shape. In photography, we see the colors that were in the inside of the nodule, which in the sculpture seem spots, as the man of the Acheulean saw to them and, therefore, if these are disturbing for us, probably they were also for the men who have made it, and that used it in his rituals.
In Acheulean layers it has been found red ocher; but they have not been found burials.The man of Neanderthal used red ocher in order to color the defunct ones; therefore,it can be assumed that the man of the Acheulean could color red ocher the sculptures, since we do not know his use of the red ocher .
For it, I introduce the photographies of this sculpture (from Fig. 8 to Fig. 13), that I have colored temporarily with a washable painting, in order to evidence the shape, for two reasons: because in photography the shape results disturbed from the several colors of the silex, and the other reason in order to imagine visually as it could have been, painted of red ocher.


View from the high (side A and side B)
It is a " TECHNICAL " PHOTOGRAPHY, as the previous photography (Fig. 5). The iron screw is a support in order to hold the sculpture. The iron screw in tip coincides with the lower part of the eye, constituted from a second skin on the nodule; the photo makes to understand that, in the sculpture, the eye is in oblique position.
In this photography, is looked at all the skin of the nodule of the reaimaining silex , while the clear zone between nose and chin is the inner color of the silex. As it can be view from the centrality of the chin, the human head is made in semifrontal perspective. In the drawing (Fig. 8) the view of under, that corresponds also to the view of over (fig.6), is divided by some dots in order to evidence that the head of the animal is carved in lateral and frontal position, while the human head is carved in semifrontal perspective.

The paleolithic artefacts that are found in secondary beds, generally, have been carried there from alluviums, or have been rolled from the marine waves.
In Liguria, where the silex does not exist, and the stone is less hard, a long erosion by flowing can cancel every trace of working, iboth on the sculptures, and on the tools, that become pebbles.
In this sculpture of the Gargano, the alluvial tumbling must have been short, in how much the damaging from hits with others silex is most modest, and regards only the external edges that have small blows on the edges rounded off for human flaking.

Of this zooantropomorphic sculpture of Rodi Garganico, I only refer to the human head that I think a " intentional portrait ".
I want remember that in the history of the art the portraits are divided in two types: physiognomic and intentional portraits. The physiognomic portraits are sculptures or paintings of the person who wants represented himself; at the contrary, the intentional portraits can be made equally well, but they never do represent the personality of an individual, and are conventional; and I refer to the historical periods, like as an example: ancient Egypt, archaic Greece, Medium Evo in painting, etc.
In the Paleolithic, the portrait is only intentional, and it can be considered such, also, in the evolued Acheulean, in which, although some small stylistic deformations, in the anthropomorphic sculpture are evidenced anatomical particulars of the head of the represented human type.

The human head (Fig. 1, side A) is larger than that of the animal (Fig. 1, side B), and this has sure a meaning, in how much in nature the head of the man is smaller than that one of a lion or of an ox. Also the composition of two heads joined by the nape has meaning. (see Bifrontism). This sculpture, like all the paleolitiche sculptures, like also the " Venus without feet ", does not have a base, as instead the sculpture of the historical periods has all.

The stylistic language is more visible in the human head, than in the animal head. From the immense typology of human heads in sculpture we can desume the vastness of the styles. (For an exhausting documentation, see the site of the Museum of the Origins of the Man).


From Rodi Garganico (Prov. Foggia, Italy) Measures: width cm. 5.5; height cm. 5.2; weight kg. 0.100. It has the same technique of removal of the flakes, of the sculpture that I introduce. This tool of silex of the evolued Acheulean is closely functional; it has been used the original shape of the pebble, of which we can see the skin like handle. The presence of residual skin is found both in the tools, and in the sculptures of silex, in all the cultural phases of the lower and middle Paleolithic.

I think an just hypothesis to connect this two-faced zooantropomorphic sculpture to the religion of its time, as to it we must connect also whichever artistic manifestation of the Paleolithic.

The bifrontism is one of the topics more developed in the study of the ancient historical religions; and since this sculpture (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) is two-faced, can be presumed tranquilly that it is at the origin of the two-faced representations of the historical ages. Same parallel can be made with the lithic tools (blades), made in order to cut to the skins of the killed animals and branches of the trees; about these blades, we can presume tranquilly that they are at the origin of the knives and the saw.


This drawing is made from the profile of two photographies. They are evidenced: the eye in the drawing up, while in the drawing under, which is the profile of the sculpture view from under, with the line of dots is evidenced the division at half of the sculpture. The face of the human head (side A), being represented in semifrontal perspective, is over the line of dots, while the snout of the animal (side B) must be seen from three sides.

A cult connected to the animals is present in the upper Paleolithic, and is well documented by the most numerous zoomorphic paintings in cave; but these animals were not divinities, and this is demonstrated from the fact that, in the ethnography, the peoples with similar painting do not have idolatry.
The inquiry must be made with the peoples that have only sculpture, or mostly sculpture, in the historical ages and in the ethnography, and then we can observe that the represented animals generally represent divinities.
The small and little sculptures known by us of the peoples with sculpture, and without painting, in Middle East and Europe, in the Mesolithic and in the Neolithic , are mostly anthropomorphic, but however they concur to trace a directed cultural thread from the Paleolithic to the historical ages and the ethnography.
The scarcity of findings is due to the fact that much material has gone dispersed, and, also, to the short duration of these cultural phases, which, according to the zones, have a variable duration between the 2.000 and 4.000 years. Indeed, in some zones, it is difficult to establish through the tools if it is matter of Mesolithic or Neolithic, while the cultural continuity through the representations of divinities in sculpture is more reliable, like as example in Turkey, and in other zones of the Middle East.
The head of animal represented in this sculpture (Fig. 1 and following) much probably represents a divinity; for three reasons: 1) because is part of a two-faced sculpture, that is of a work made for cult reasons; 2) because in the first historical ages and in the ethnography, sculptures that represent animals, also singularly, generally are divinities, 3) because it is a representation in sculpture, and not a representation in painting, and the sculpture generally is associated with the idolatry.
However, they are always hypothesis, in how much, we know that, during the upper Paleolithic, the peoples with zoomorphic representations in painting, probably connected to the " magic ", have maintained until our days a primitive stage, but do not know their origin,i.e. if they are a " cultural branch " that comes down from the peoples with sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic.
To the contrary, for the sculptures like this, we know their origin, their uninterrupted continuity for hundred of thausend of years, and we know that, what they represent, is lasted until the historical ages, and lasts today in some regions of the civilized East and in the ethnography.


Lateral-frontal view like the initial photography: head of presapiens (Fig. 1, side A on the left); side B, on the right, the head of the animal.
It has been colored, both in order to better see the shape without the natural colors, and to simulate a hypothetical colouring in the Acheulean with red ocher for ritual use; but it gives also the idea of other sculptures realized in a type of stone with an single color, where, for damaging from flowing, the working traces are not looked at

In Europe and in the ancient Mediterranean, from archaic Greece to the Celts, etc, from the written news that we have, the cults two-faced connected to the divinity, vary from zone to zone, in the same manner as the names of the divinities are different.
It is thinkable that in the evolued Acheulean, that it is lasted 300.000 years, the cult connected with the two-faced sculptures was different.

The small two-faced sculpture was manifested in the ritual, as the lithic tool manifested when it came used.

This sculpture of Rodi Garganico is assumed have been a symbol in at least a ritual cult.


Semifrontal view of the human head (side A on the left), comprised also the partial view of the head of the animal. Colorful like Fig. 9. In photography, the colors can vary between a photo and the other, for the variations of light.

When we place ourselves in front of a sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic, we analyze a work of art of a man who was much different from us. If we have a sure acquaintance of the techniques of working of the stone, that is how the man manufactured the tools, we can understand how he made to manufacture the sculpture, even if with approximation. Obviously, we must become one with the mentality of a man of a different cultural phase from ours.
When a ethnologist enters in a tent of a primitive, if he sits down on the ground, dirty the pants, and he is not shocked , in how much he adaptes himself to the uses of the man who is studying.
With the paleolithic art the attitude of the researcher must be the same. Instead, often, the observer (that is the one who, I hope, will become a scholar of sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic) places still, as meter of appraisal, the quality of the historical and our contemporary art, that is its centrality, and " superiority " on the paleolithic art.
The obstacles for an approach to the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic are many; between these, there is the conviction (generally unconscious) that the art is an individual product, and also consequence of inspiration of the artist.
In my opinion, the paleolithic art, like the art of every successive time, must be view like a product that the artist makes for the others, and, in the case of the Acheulean, the artist makes it for the " spiritual market " of his time. Therefore, our criterion of appraisal must enter in the paleolithic ambiance.



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