Pietro Gaietto

In the palethnology the art seems a daughter not wished.
The art is object of insufficient studies and insufficient spreading.
In the books of introduction to the Paleolithic the pages dedicated to the art vary from 4% to 8%.
About the art searches are not made; when the paleolithic art is found. it happens for accident.
The palethnologists taken care of the origins of the tools, but they do NOT taken care of the origins of the art.
Not even the students of paleolihic art take care of the origins of the art.
The problem of the origins of the art can be resolved in short time.
The art will have to be managed from the palethnologists.
The remedy exists.


To this question they would have to answer the palethnologists, but the facts demonstrate that the interest is truly insufficient.
The paintings of the two more important caves of Europe have been discovered, not by the palethnologists, but by some the boys.
In the 1879's a child 12 y.o. discovered the paintings of the Cave of Altamira. The cave of Lescaux was discovered by two boys in 1940's.
It seems, however, than the disinterestedness for the art, in science , precedes the palethnology.
The work " Antiquités celtiques et antédiluviennes ", in which Jacques Boucher de Perthes illustrated his discoveries of industries and art, was introduced in 1846's to the Académie ses Sciences and published in 1849's, but it was received with a general scepticism and provoked therefore a wide discussiont, in which many famous naturalists (J. Prestwich, J. Evans, C. Lyell, H. Falconer, etc ) were been involved. Subsequently the validity of a part of the industries was recognized , but not validity of the art, that was constituted from sculptures in silex.
In the second half of the 800's of the study of the industries has made great progresses, in how much object of intense searches, to the contrary of the art, that was not a problem felt by the palethnologists. Evidently, they have not even consulted the great treatises by Boucher de Perthes .
The first discoveries of zoomorphous paintings in cave were made by a 12 y.o. girl, daughter of Marcelino de Santuola, a Spanish nobleman, who had begun to dig the magdalenian deposit of the Cave of Altamira, in Cantabria.
In 1879's, after four years from the beginning of the diggings, the little Maria, that the father had carried for the first time with himself, called his attention on the animals painted on the vault of the cave just over the trench.
This episode must make to reflect. Santuola was a cultured man who during four years has lead diggings in cave in the light of lamps. How it is explained that he is not never able to see the paintings on the vault? The only possible explanation is that, one that who does not place the problem, does not see. But when his child has indicated to him the paintings, his brain has begun to work in the direction of the art.
Santuola published the discovery in 1880's, and even if his interpretation was corrected, did not come received from the official science, whose representatives were not more naturalists, who denied the art, like at the time of Boucher de Perthes, but they were palethnologists.
Who examined was unprepared to accept the fact that these art works, produced of high artistic maturity and great technical skill like those of Altamira, went back to the Magdalenian, much more than the lithic industry of the Magdalenian is the more " ugly " in all the upper Paleolithic.
The formal science gave the acknowledgment of the paintings of Altamira after more than twenty years, between 1902's and 1906's, and after new discoveries of paleolithic paintings happened in the caves of Dordogne around 1900's.
Twenty years are many. Formal science cannot be inculpated, neither justified why it must be prudent. For Altamira, the problem, in my opinion, goes tried in indifference that the palethnologists had for the art. These palethnologists could have consulted some technicians (artists or fresco-makers) in order to understand if the paintings of Altamira were false or were old. Nothing of all this. Total indifference . Like in the Middle Age, they have put the discoveries of Santuola in prison and have thrown the key. They have been the caves of Dordogne to open the door of Altamira.

The naturalists of the first half of the 800's take care of the man, but not of the art. The palethnologists of the second half of the 800's take care of the material life of the paleolithic man, where the central hinge of their studies is the artefacts, but they do not take care of the art. The 900's inherits this tradition of studies of " material culture ", and not of studies of art .

With the first years of the 900's, begins in intensive way the discoveries of paintings in cave, the discoveries of small feminine sculptures (Venus), and the discoveries of " Art mobilier " of the upper Paleolithic, that obviously must be studied. At this point, we do not know, if the palethnologists loose the occasion to study the paleolithic art because it does not interest to them, or because they are unprepared, or because the art students (not palethnologists) appropriate of it, having already a base of competence in the field of the art in a generalized manner.
The art students always have existed. In hellenistic Greece they had a high specialization. In the ours times the art student generally takes care of history of the art, with specialization in some periods and not in others, and where the central topic is the " beautiful one ", giving pleasure to the public to which is turned his job.
For the modern and contemporary art, the art student shapes himself as" critic of art ", and who has greater carisma becomes also " ideologist ".

Merit of the palethnologists (indeed, one of the many merits) has been the study of the evolution of the tools from the more ancient shapes until the most recent. To the contrary, the students of art of the upper Paleolithic have set up their studies with the same concepts of the history of the art of the historical periods, where the term " evolution " is absent.
The study of the art of the upper Paleolithic is in a stall situation, and has to be vivified, time by time, from some new opinion, we don't know if credible or less; or from some new finding, or some new dating, but the scientific study does not go ahead, like instead, ahead goes the study of the industries.

Boucher de Perthes has been the first to investigate the origins of the art, but not to investigate the origins of the paleolithic art, because it had not been still discovered. He investigated the art of the antediluvian man.
Paul Graziosi, famous student of art, considering that the art of the upper Paleolithic shows itself much mature in every application and variety of styles, assumed in 1959's that it must have a more ancient origin to researh outside from Europe. Probably he has thought to an extra European origin, in how much in Europe not there were findings, and perhaps, like previous phase, he meant the middle Paleolithic.

My researches are begun with different conjectures. It was 1958's or 1959's, I had little more than 20 years, I was a great lover of the art. I made sculptures in knit iron. I was in the vanguards of the abstractionism of Genoa, in those years very actual. From a couple of years I had begun to interest myself about archaeology. All single, I had been to visit the cave of Niaux, then unguarded. Those paintings had fascinated to me. It was therefore that I am decided to research the paleolithic art in Liguria, in how much I did not succeed to convince myself that Liguria was unprovided of it. In the caves of Liguria I did not find neither paintings neither engravings. On cliffs I did not find engravings. I found instead some lithic sculptures on mountains to the borders between the provinces of Genoa and Savona.
They were sculptures representing human heads, some were two-faced. The prevailing type was Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, therefore I thought that they belonged to the middle Paleolithic. These sculptures, however, were not at the origin of the zoomorphic paintings of the French upper hPaleolitic, but they were previous.
Some sculptures of two-faced human heads associated a head of Neanderthal to one of Sapiens sapiens, and it testified a cohabitating of the two human types. Other sculptures of heads of Homo sapiens sapiens, always found on the mounts of the Liguria, had a variety of types with different characteristics between them and much similar to the current humanity, and these I placed in the upper Paleolithic. Twenty years after, Leslie Freeman, and other Spanish palethnologists, discovered in the Cave of El Juyo (Santander, Spain) a sculpture with typology similar to those that I had found, representing a human head joined to a feline head, and dated at 14,000 years.
This finding at El Juyo confirmed my conviction that in parallel to the civilizations with painting, in this case the magdalenian civilization, was other civilizations with sculpture (and without painting) in different zones.
The sculptures that I have found of the middle Paleolithic were mature, both for the represented human subjects, and for the composition in the two-faced couplings, and for the working technique; so I thought that they must have a more ancient origin. My research then has been moved in the great layers of surface of the lower Paleolithic.
I have begun from the Gargano, where I went every summer, for five years, then I have made in intensive way other Italian and French layers, and some proof in Spain and Greece.
In these layers I have found anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, also two-faced, in silex, that I have attributed to the Acheulean and the Abbevillian. I have obtained the cultural attribution confronting the technique of working of the sculptures with that one of the lithic tools, that are all datable for typology, and also with the fluitation degree that joins the more ancient tools. The human types are arcaic, and there are no representations of Homo sapiens sapiens. Some of these sculptures have the head with the body without limbs: those human have the body in vertical position, those that represent animals have the body in horizontal position.
Recently in Israel , at Berehka Ram in the High Golan it has been discovered an anthropomorphic sculpture, similar to an aurignacian Venus, and attributed to the Acheulean (studied byAlexander Marshack, Francisco D' Errico and by the Israel Prehistoric Society).
Also the abbevillian sculpture, as far to the profane eye can appear rough, to me seemed complex enough, and then I have tried its origin in the previous cultural phase, that is the Pebble Culture.
The open layers of Pebble Cultures, in Italy, are rare, and show artefacts damaged from tumbling , but the sculptures that I have found are in good conditions.
At the current state of my researches in the Pebble Culture, the typology is only one, and is constituted from the representation of the human head, of a type much archaic, that seems to have been represented without jaw.
A similar sculpture has been found from Mary Leakey in the Throat of Olduvai, and has been dated at 1,700,000 years.

For me, the problem of the origins of the art is resolved in indicative way, in how much, with my experience of beyond forty years of search, I don't think that can be found typologies much different from that have been found. Sure, the period considered is so immense, than mine findings, for how much numerous, are little thing in order to complete all the dowels that already have been occupied from the industries. And, then, the other zones of Europe and the other continents remain, where there have not been made researches.

For official science, obviously, the problem is not resolved, in how much it does not exist.

Searches in order to try the life on other planets are made; searches are made (are nearly a competition) in order to try the lacking ring man-"ape "; researches in order to extend the acquaintance of the material life of the paleolithic man in the ancient times are made, and therefore, it is opportune to begin to make research on the origins of the art, and consequently on the spiritual life of the man of the lower Paleolithic.
From 40 years until now, the written that I have read about the spiritual life of the man of the lower Paleolithic, are based on the jaws of the Euranthropus, the Atlanthropus, the Sinanthropus and on some other piece of skull, for a ethnographic parallelism with funeral rituals of the current Homo sapiens sapiens. The art increases the borders of the spiritual life of the man of the lower Paleolithic, making him equal to Homo sapiens sapiens, even if at a lower cultural level.


The finding of the sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic is much analogous to the finding of the tools, in how much is necessary the knowledge.Who does not have knowledge cannot find neither tools, neither sculptures. In order to start the search on the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic, and therefore the study on the origins, is necessary that the palethnologist manages the study of the art found, and that are the palethnologists to reassume these researches in chronological order and of geographic distribution, exactly like made for the industries.
In paleoanthropology, who finds the skeletal finding, studies it directly, and are the paleoanthropologists that study the evolution of the findings, careless of the spiritual aspects.
For the study of the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic it is necessary to divide the material, that is visible, components from the spiritual ones, that is invisible.
The use of the artefacts is an invisibile component, than it can be considered " spiritual " in the use of the sculpture, in how much it is a ritual, and " not spiritual " in the use of the tools, in order to cut, to scrape, etc.
Obviously, if a sculpture is found over a skeleton, it must hold account that the ritual was funeral, and this interests the spiritual aspects, that have to be held in high consideration, but that cannot be inserted in statistical studies, with the material components. The same, for what the representations represent in the cult; and here are necessary historical and etnographic parallelisms with similar representations of which we know the meant, like the two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures and the different types of zooanthropomorphic sculptures, that independently from the quality degree, are similar in the Paleolithic and in the first historical civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean.
The material components are the technique of working and the choice of the material, that are common to the tools. The other components are the anthropomorphic, zoomorphic or zooanthropomorphic representation, and the stylistic deformation.
The anthropomorphic sculpture represents the head of many human types, that vary in every cultural phase.
The stylistic deformation is the true language of the art that reflects the " fashion " of a determined period. The sculpture of a head can be deformed to the maximum for lengthening, but it is possible to understand if it is matter of a man or a mammal ; while, in the middle stylistic deformations, the human type is understood always, it is if it is an archaic or recent neanderthalian, or a sapiens sapiens.
The range of the stylistic deformations is much width, like in the art of all the historical times and everywhere in the world.
The anthropomorphic sculptures with minor stylistic deformation are proportioned to the real, with clear representation of the human type, that in the scientific research has the twofold usefullness of giving a chronology to the sculpture on the base of the dating of the skeletal findings, and at the same time supplying to the paleoanthropology images that the paleolithic man has made about himself .

The art of the lower and middle Paleolithic has to be serched and every place can be good or bad.
The art is not found in the places of dwelling-place, but in those of cult.
For the middle Paleolithic, in the middle mountain zones , some groupings of sculptures make to presume the positioning in cult places. In the lower Paleolithic, where the sculptures often show signs of alluvial transport, it is much difficult to establish the cult places; however, in the places of dwelling-places dug, the sculpture does not exist.
The more ancient periods, exactly the lower and middle Paleolithic, are the surest for the cultural attributions of the art, and therefore for their dating.
In the more recent periods of the Paleolitihc and the protohistory, it is the much most difficult to date the art works.
Approximately 15 years ago the UNESCO has made a census of the paleolithic paintings in cave and the protohistorical rock engravings of all the world, counting 20 million.
All these works are in cult places, and in the greater part the human dwelling-places are not known, i.e. we do not know even who have made them. The datings that often come supplied, in relation to the brevity of the periods, are generic attributions, and therefore, in relation, less exact of the datings of the lower and middle Paleolithic.

I conclude
and I wish good travel to who will begin the search
many wishes in order to find his first sculpture
and this wonderful travel will not have never end



Copyrightę2000-2002 by Paleolithic Art Magazine, all rights reserved.