PALEOLITHIC ART MAGAZINE
SHORT HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERIES OF THE LOWER PALEOLITHIC ART, AND HYPOTHESIS ON THE FUTURE OF THE RESEARCH
The first phase of the research (1800 - 1860) Heroic period
The second phase of the research (1861 - 1913) Classic Period
The third phase of the research (1914 - 1945) Middle Ages
The fourth phase of the research (1946 - 2002) Renaissance
The fourth phase of the research. Typology and chronology
The fourth phase of the research. The absolute datings
Photographs and drawings of sculptures discovered in 150 years
Conclusion and hypothesis on the future of the research
"In the theater of the lower Paleolithic, the main actors are three: industries, that is the set of types of tools for material uses; art, that is, the set of types of sculptures for spiritual uses, and the fossil remains of hominids, that is the remains of our ancestors.
The actors, who always play in the best theaters of science, are the fossil remains of hominids and the industries; who, instead, never can perform, or only plays small parts in suburban theaters, is art, with its mysterious spiritual contents.
In these baroque theaters the skeletons dance making their bones tinkle, banging stone tools in their hands, to enhance the strength of material culture; while art, outside the theater, listens to these terrifying noises; she is sad, cries, and hopes for more interesting theater programs to participate in.
Art knows perfectly well that it does not enjoy protection from above, but it also knows that it can play new and more interesting parts of the other two illustrious actors."
In the sciences the errors are corrected when they are discovered, as they are opinions, which are replaced by other opinions.
The lacked entry of the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic in the official science, goes back to 150 years ago, and has not been a simple error, but an extremely serious scientific damage, that I will frequently return to analyze.
The difficulties, that the discoveries of Lower Paleolithic art have met and continue to meet in the scientific world from beyond 150 years, are integrant part of the history of the discoveries themselves
Lower Paleolithic art researchers have done well, and worked hard, but they have not been taken into account by their colleagues collectors of fossils and industries.
The art of the lower Paleolithic is constituted from anthropomorphic and zoomorphic lithic sculpture, and the findings of beyond 170 years of researches have a similar typology in every researcher, but what has changed in the time, are the cultural attributions and the interpretations, that is the use of the sculptures from the men that produced them.
In the first half of 19th century Boucher de Perthes attributed this art to the antediluvian man, and today we know that, instead, at least the better part must be attributed to the lower Paleolithic.
In the first half of the 20th century, these lithic sculptures, that were said also "stone figures", were attributed to the middle Paleolithic, and today we know that in great part they are to be attributed to the lower Paleolithic.
In the second half of the 20th century begin the attributions to the lower Paleolithic (W. Matthes, 1964), that however are generic attributions, in how much the lower Paleolithic is immense.
A subdivision in cultural phases of the lower Paleolithic (Abbevillian, Clactonian, Acheulean, etc.) was subsequently applied to the sculptures (P. Gaietto, 1974) based on findings of the main deposits of the South Europe.
Ascertained that in the Abbevillian (today ancient Acheulean) the art appears already well shaped, researches are leaded in the deposits of Pebble Culture (Oldowan) of Southern Italy, to search for the origin of Abbevillian art, and also here sculptures are found (P. Gaietto, 1982). In the 800's and in the first half of the 900's, the researchers of art, finding the sculpture of the Pebble Culture,
would certainly have discarded it, as it would not have been meaningful to them, i.e. too simple, and, in any case, in their research areas (Central-Northern Western Europe) Pebble Culture is absent.
There is a typology of the sculptures of the lower Paleolithic, with the evolution of the various types from the Pebble Culture to the evolued Acheulean (Gaietto, 1982), that allows the scholar to give a cultural attribution to a sculpture found out of context.
The sculpture of the Pebble Culture also appears already mature, at least for the eye of the researcher, that does not have to neglect nothing, and it has been hypothesized (P.Gaietto, 1982) that there was a previous phase, that is the origin of the art, in the found "ready-made", just as many researchers of tools have hypothesized that the hominid before making tools, used stones found already split.
The "ready-made" can be meant like a shape of "pre-art", and has been found at Makapansgat, in South Africa, in a site in cave with remains of Australopithecus, that has allowed the absolute dating from 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 years (Fig.1).
A verification to the European sculpture of the Pebble Culture comes from the Olduvay Gorge in southern Africa, from a site that has allowed its dating to 1,700,000 years. Of these two important African finds take care the paleoanthropologists Mary Leakey, Raymond Dart, K.P. Oakley, R.G. Bednarik, and it is necessary to specify that they are not researchers of art of the lower Paleolithic (Fig.2).
The art of the lower Paleolithic is the first known art form of the entire Paleolithic, as, at the time of the first discoveries, the zoomorphic paintings in the cave, the art mobilier on bone and the female sculptures (Venuses) of the upper Paleolithic were not yet known. These discoveries date back to the first half of the 19th century by the brilliant researcher Jacques Boucher de Perthes (1788 - 1868).
It is sufficiently documented that the origin of art coincides with the origin of industries, and therefore, with the origin of man.
The lower Paleolithic has a duration of 2,300,000 years (from 2,500,000 to 200,000 years), and its art constitutes 92% of the time elapsed from its origins to the present day.
The art of the lower Paleolithic is constituted from anthropomorphic and zoomorphic lithic sculptures realized with a technique of working similar to that one of the production of lithic tools. Also the aspect of these sculptures at first sight is similar to stones, as the lithic tools are, and therefore the imaginary collective (that is persons who have had occasion to see these works), often has difficulty to interpret them, i.e. to see some carved images, and however to consider them "art". Same difficulties the imaginary collective has also in interpreting the lithic tools: if to a person not interested in prehistory we show a "scraper", he considers it a small stone, and he doesn't even know the function of a scraper. For this reason we must interpret the mind of the hominids that constructed lithic tools for their daily uses, which used them and obviously knew how to distinguish them between other stones, such as they knew how to recognize the art, that is the lithic sculptures produced for their rituals of cult.
Who, today, does not engage himself to interpret the art of the hominids for what it was, cannot not even be able to understand the carved images.
The sculpture of the lower Paleolithic hominids was a pure art, with a unique style. We can find the union of two styles in the two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures, and this perhaps as a result of the union of two different cultural traditions, but however there is always an extreme simplicity, that anyway must be interpreted with attention. Undoubtedly, it is not easy to concentrate on this, because today we live among tens of thousands of styles, with an exasperating mixture, following traditions of some millennia, and coming from all over the world, as we find in cars, paintings, curtains, blankets, dishes, carpets, and in a thousand other objects that surround us.
THE FIRST PHASE OF RESEARCH (1800 - 1860)
In the first years of the 19th century, the general conviction was that no man lived at the time of the big mammals, elephants, rhinos, reindeer, whose fossil remains were being discovered in Europe.
At that time the first researchers had a creationist or evolutionist philosophy.
With the first discoveries of human fossils associated with fossils of extinct animals, creationists argued that humans, who had lived next to these disappeared animals, were not our ancestors, as the cataclysm of the Universal Deluge separated them from us. To the contrary, the evolutionists supported that the present man was the direct descendant of the prehistoric man that lived during the Quaternary, coeval of the great fossil mammals.
The first researchers were amateur naturalists. The first findings occurred almost by chance, because the same discoverers did not know exactly what they were looking for, and on the other hand still did not know the real antiquity of lithic industries. They did not receive any encouragement from official science (which was based on creationist philosophy), which on the contrary opposes any progress, under the influence of Buckland in England, Cuvier and later Elie de Beaumont in France.
Boucher de Perthes began his searches around 1830. He was of creationist doctrine, but also he did not receive encouragement by the official science, which also was of the same doctrine.
In the years around 1830 the scientific imaginary of the evolutionists had "invented" graphically the image of the fossil man similar to the monkey, that is very hairy and horrible to see. This image will continue for over a century and a half, as it will be transferred to the Neanderthal Man, and then to the hominids of the Lower Paleolithic.
Boucher de Perthes in his publications, rich of drawings of tools and sculptures, does not publish drawings of like he imagined was the man, but describes him like "a man with his weapons, his tools, his art, and his family with sons", that can be interpreted like a man "created" similar to us.
If we analyze the scientific imaginary of the first half of the 800's, in relation to the discoveries that occurred in the following 150 years, the "victory" must be assigned to the creationist Boucher de Perthes, and not to the evolutionists. (however, before dying Boucher de Perthes became evolutionist).
The evolutionists (around 1830) had imagined a man-ape, ugly, without art, and with little intelligence. Boucher de Perthes had imagined a beautiful man, with his tools, with his weapons, with his art, and therefore with his spirituality.
Today we know that the fossil man was not one, but many men. They were Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, with their art and their religions, which were not at all men monkey, but they were similar to us, and that furthermore the hominids that preceded them, had perfectly erect station, had industry and art beginning from 2.500.000 years ago, and we have also evidences of construction of huts in those remote ages.
Boucher de Perthes has "won" his scientific battle, when he was already old, in how much has been the first one to obtain from the official science the acknowledgment that the lithic industries, which he found, were manufactured by the fossil man; in fact it was diffuse opinion that the lithic tools were not products of the man, but with the acknowledgment of the official science has begun an increase of the researches, and the birth of the prehistory, like real science.
Boucher de Perthes in his volumes had published many drawings of tools and sculptures (said "pierres-figures") (Fig.5 and Fig.6).
The committee of the most famous naturalists (J. Prestwich, H. Falconer, J. Evans, C. Lyell, etc.) representing the official science of the time, pronounced positively on the industries, but not on the art, that is on all the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures published.
The art of the antediluvian man has not convinced the committee of the naturalists (academics), in how much evidently they were convinced that the artifacts were simple stones, and probably there were, not stones, but perhaps leftovers of workmanship vaguely zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, but in little amount, I believe, because Boucher de Perthes describes well the flakings of the flint.
The science of the time was unprepared to acknowledge the artifacts, but while for the tools the acceptance has been possible, even if long and laborious, as the tools were useful to the "survival" of the man, the acceptance of the art has been impossible, as the academics sure have thought that an ape man "could not have art", therefore a judgment given on a prejudice.
I do not know if in the first half of the 800's existed other researchers of art beyond Boucher de Perthes, however the great scholar has found and studied, that is has made researches on the antediluvian man, that was not a research on the origin of the art of the successive times, like we do today, even if the art was the same one that we study today.
The art of the antediluvian man was end to itself, according to the Creationism of the scholar, in fact the universal Deluge would have destroyed all, comprised the Man, and what has come after would have been fruit of a new creation.
The greater part of the sculptures in silex, that Boucher de Perthes has collected, came from the terraced alluviums of the valley of the Somme, and, from the typology of the published sculptures, it is possible to affirm, for great part of these, their attribution to the lower Paleolithic.
Unfortunately this material, that was placed in the Museum of Abbeville, has gone destroyed from the bombings of the Germans in May-June 1940.
At the end of the first half of the 19th century the cultural and knowledge context was certainly not favorable to the interpretation, and therefore to the scientific acquisition of the art of the antediluvian man, and this, certainly, was also true for the Academicians, since not all of them had the culture of Boucher de Perthes.
The situation was as follows:
1) The real antiquity of the lithic artefacts was not known, and moreover there was who contested the human workmanship (the Academics).
2) The art of the upper Paleolithic was not still known, that is the zoomorphic paintings of the caves, the zoomorphic engravings on bone, and not even the feminine statuettes, called "Venuses".
3) The modern art, that has contributed to bring the collective imaginary to every form of art, did not still exist.
4) The art of the primitives of Africa and Oceania was still extraneous to European culture.
5) The fashionable art was Neoclassicism, therefore the taste for beauty, that is, art had to be beautiful, and if it was not beautiful it was not art.
Boucher de Perthes was a great avant-garde scholar, who was able to perceive by intuition the art of the antediluvian man. His cultural background was scientific (his father was a botanical researcher) and artistic (he was partner for eight years with Pauline Borghese, Napoleon Bonaparte's sister, and in Italy he frequented many artists, including Nicolò Paganini, and wrote romances and plays). But, in spite of his preparation, he did not succeed in having his art accepted; however, he had followers, who unfortunately, had the same difficulties with the Academics as he did.
Boucher de Perthes has been defined by the historians of the prehistory the "Father of the prehistory", but at the same time they say about him that "he has made the same errors". Boucher de Perthes has made the same errors, that have made the other researchers of his time, and he has not been able to correct them because by now too much old.
These "historians of the prehistory", beyond laughing on his errors about the tools, laugh also on his studies on the art (stone-figures), accusing him of "too much fertile imagination", and therefore with constant and unheard fury.
When the official science did not accept the art of Boucher de Perthes, committed an act of extreme superficiality, that has strongly damaged the researches on the art of the lower Paleolithic until our days.
Boucher de Perthes is the only one (by me know) that has drawn the sculptures in the 19th century, as with the beginning of the 20th century begins the photography. His drawings are useful still today. His sculptures come mainly from the zone of Abbeville, and, anyway, the localities of the finding are indicated.
The drawings are numerous, and have an accurate description, with the dimensions and the parts worked; many are the types, and many are the variations of the same type. Therefore, in these zones where the quarries have been exhausted, and the territory was covered from industries, and now nothing is found, it is possible to use these drawings to study the several cultural cycles of those zones.
Through the current typology of the art (P.Gaietto, 1982), and also the studies of other researchers of the 20th century of the Central-Northern Europe, the drawings of Boucher de Perthes can supply the typology of the art of every period and in chronological order. A long and laborious work, where certainly there will be types to discard, but perhaps also types to be recuperated.
THE SECOND PHASE Of THE RESEARCHES (1861 - 1913)
Boucher de Perthes dies in 1868 at the age of 80 years. After 1861, prehistory rapidly organized itself, determining its methods precisely, establishing classification criteria, and building the general framework of human evolution.
The study of Paleolithic artifacts is divided into two parts. The lithic tools are framed in the official science, while the lithic sculptures are studied outside of the official science. In the official science are framed also the studies of the human fossils.
The scholars of the lithic sculptures (ex stone-figures) become numerous, and they cannot be more defined "amateur researchers", therefore I adopt the term of "private researchers".
On the contrary, in the other two disciplines (tool study and human fossil study) that are inserted in the official science, the researchers are not more amateurs, but they are replaced by "academic researchers", or at least they begin to prevail.
The relationships between the "private researchers" of the art, and the "academic researchers" of the tools and the human fossils, have never been good.
I have defined the second phase of the researches of art (1861 - 1913) as the Classic Period, because in its final and evolved phase, at least in the last 20 years, the research of the art (ex stone-figures) had become a real "scientific movement", with a great vitality, like, for example, in the modern art, in Italy the Futurist Movement.
The Classic Period ends in 1913, but to kill the scientific movement of the lower and middle Paleolithic art, was not the First World War, but the indifference of the "academic researchers" towards these forms of art. The indifference of the power crushes every initiative contrary to it.
"Academic researchers" orient themselves in several specializations and in several periods: from the Age of the metals to the Neolithic, from the Mesolithic to the upper Paleolithic, from the middle Paleolithic to the lower Paleolithic; and their searches prevalently concern the lithic tools, the human and animals fossils, and nothing is rejected, except the sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic (ex stones-figures), because, evidently, they do not are not able to understand it, or anyway, there is a negative prejudice to study it.
The research of the "stone-figures", even if not documented by any literature, was present in the second half of the 19th century, as, starting from 1895 and until 1913, there are many publications and congresses, which imply a long research work
The scholars I know from their publications are: E. Harroy (1901, 1902, 1903), A. Thieullen (1904, 1906, 1907), W.M. Newton (1913), J. Dharwent (1913), but before analyzing some of their researches, it is important to evaluate the scientific and cultural context of their time, that is, the last decades of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century.
The major events that occurred between 1861 and 1913 were the birth of modern art, first with the Impressionists, then from the early 1900s with the Futurists, Cubists, Abstractists, etc; the use of the photography in the publications; the discoveries of the Upper Paleolithic art (zoomorphic paintings in cave), and the new acquisitions of the ethnology. These events have influenced, in some way, the interpretation of the sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic. Newton in the drawings of his sculptures used some caption of inspiration "artistic futurist".
Between the researchers of art of this second phase, E. Harroy has been sure the more engaged. He has collected and acquired more than 100,000 sculptures in silex, making a subdivision between the human heads and those of animals (deer, bird, lion, bear, dog, etc.) and a subdivision of the two-faced sculptures, both of human heads, and of animals, with their several combinations of coupling, and a classification of the common types and the rare types (Fig.11).
Harroy begun a classification of types, that unfortunately were not inserted in a complete order. His chronological attributions, like those of other researchers of his time, are the middle Paleolithic and the upper Paleolithic, but my interpretation, for the greatest part of the reliable sculptures, i.e. sure, and not casual, is the attribution to the lower Paleolithic (Acheulean and Clactonian), and more rarely to the middle and upper Paleolithic. (Today we know that two-faced anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculpture, found at El Juyo in Spain and at Bédeilhac in France, exists in parallel to the magdalenian civilization with zoomorphic paintings. Thus some attributions to the Upper Paleolithic by Harroy and others were correct.
If they have not been dispersed, it would be important to find the sculptures that Harroy, Thieullen, Newton and Dharwent collected, in how much the photographies published on their books are few in comparison to the collected material (Fig.3 and Fig.7).
These scholars, one hundred and more years ago, had the possibility to collect a great number of sculptures; it is no longer possible today, since, in their research areas, there has been a great number of works of urbanization and industrialization, even in agriculture, and soils have been covered by new roads and highways, and so it is now difficult to find plots of land in which to do research.
A. Thieullen in 1900 reported about "stones-figures" with intentional retouchings, and this is exact only in part (Fig.10).
In the lower Paleolithic the sculptures were obtained from pebbles or fragments of rock, and were worked on all the surface, even if not to "all the way around". The stones with a natural shape, nearly anthropomorphic or zoomorphic, were perfectioned with little retouchings, but this generally is found in the zones where prevail the nodules of silex; and, however, do not exist bizarre representations and finalized to themselves, in how much there are typologies well defined and predefined, therefore the shape of the nodule is useful only to accelerate the execution of the work.
Both the sculptures, and the tools, are conditioned from the dimensions and the shape of the stones (pebbles, fragments of rock, nodules of silex, hard or tender stones, etc.) found in the territory, but the typology, except small variations, does not change.
The interpretations of the artifacts are of many types.
The interpretation of the tools is prevalently controllable with technical experiments, and therefore, it is simpler, while the interpretation of the sculptures is much more complex, because it comprises also the spiritual aspects.
The "academic researchers", in the second half of the 20th century, are many and are all over the world, and their organization is similar to a multinational company, and therefore they benefit of funds for the research from their States, that instead do not have the "private researchers" of the lower and middle Paleolithic art.
The "academic researchers" of stone tools have realized important studies from the production of copies of Paleolithic tools, determining the working techniques used by the hominids. Besides, always through trials, and then with the use of the microscope, they have been able to establish the stone tools used to cut or to scrape the skins, the wood, and to make holes in the ground to search for vegetables; this on tools found in southern Africa and dated between 2,000,000 and 1,500,000 years ago.
It does not seem to me that the "private researchers" have made copies of sculptures in order to determine the working techniques, however, the chipping techniques for the sculptures in flint are similar to those used in order to make tools, with the difference that cutting edges are not produced, but a shape is modeled, thus with more laborious techniques.
The first interpretation of a sculpture of the lower Paleolithic consists in establishing if it is true or false, and in this case it is necessary to know the working techniques.
The second interpretation concerns the represented subject, and, also in this case, it needs knowledge. As an example, Boucher de Perthes before, and Dharwent after, have interpreted some sculptures as heads of monkeys; these are mistakes of interpretation to be corrected, as the sculptures are valid, and made in the lower Paleolithic. However, the interpretation in sculpture of a representation of head of monkey, in the past could be plausible, in how much in Europe were being discovered fossil remainss of mammals, still living in Africa like the monkeys.
In the interpretation of the representation of the head, new acquisitions have been made in the second half of the 20th century, unknown in the 19th century, and they are:
- in the Paleolithic, protohistoric, historical and ethnographic sculpture, many are the sculptures that are a mixture of heads of man and animal, and are of three types: 1) a head of animal joined for the nape to a human head, 2) a head with half human face and half face of animal, 3) a face or a head completely mixed man and animal. Difficult to interpret, for the untrained, is the third type.
- the stylistic deformations exist in the art of all the times and all the world, and therefore also in the lower Paleolithic, in which the head can be made in thousand of ways (even if, in every cultural phase, always in the same way), until to become unrecognizable: some define it "symbolic", but it is not correct, because it re-enters always in the style, i.e. in the language of the art.
- the representations of heads of hominids and of the ancient Neanderthalians, that is with escaping forehead and chinless, mislead if they are not known, even more when the sculpture has a stylistic deformation.
- in the sculpture of the lower Paleolithic, the heads of mammals are represented without horns and without tusks (as the feminine figurines "venuses" of the upper Paleolithic are without feet): in the interpretations, it is necessary to take account of it. The representations of single heads are of three types: human, of animal, and mixed man-animal. The human heads are the easier ones to interpret.
The third interpretation concerns the spiritual aspects of the art of the lower Paleolithic, that consist in trying to give an explanation about the reasons for which hominids have manufactured the sculptures.
For the tools, the interpretation has been easier; as an example, it has been understood immediately that the blades of silex were used in order to cut the skins and the meat.
For long time the researchers of the "stone-figures" have not faced the problem of the art function, and indeed, there has always been a great confusion, also connected to the artistic and cultural fashions of their time.
Boucher de Perthes had divided a part of his sculptures in "Egyptian types, Assyrians, Druidic monuments, Celtic monuments...", as at the time this type of archaeology was in fashion.
Harroy, following the new acquisitions of ethnology, refers to "totemism".
The orientation at the end of the century and until 1913 was prevalently "art for art", even if not specified, since in the publications the use of art for religious purposes is not assumed, and in photograph are published the sculptures with greater affinity with the subjects represented in the paintings and in the impressionist sculptures of the time.
Today we know that "art for art" is absolutely improposable for the lower Paleolithic, and that therefore the figurative art (anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculpture) was produced for cult rituals. In this sense, the studies are oriented on some types of two-faced anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, that we find uninterruptedly in the lower, middle and upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, historical periods, and in the ethnography of all the world, except Australia.
To be able to define the cult rituals of the hominids of one or two million years ago, perhaps will be more easy, than to understand for which reason the "academic researchers" have always disinterested themselves about the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic (ex stone figures).
THE THIRD PHASE OF RESEARCH (1914 - 1945)
In Europe, between 1914 and 1945, there have been two world wars, and an intermediate period of twenty years that in some nations has seen the advent of Communism, Fascism and Nazism, with consequent tensions with the Democracies, that have damaged very much the progress of art research.
I don't know how much have made the "academic researchers" of tools, but the "private researchers" of art must have made very little, because I don#39;t know a single publication. For 30 years a thick veil has covered the science of the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic, as in the Middle Ages other sciences were in silence. However, this Middle Ages persists still today, in parallel to isolated and valid researchers and to sporadic and important discoveries of art, also from "new academic researchers", that however join to the "Resurgence" of the studies on the art of the lower Paleolithic of the second half of the 20th century.
Certainly, in Europe has not stopped all: the scholars of art that published until 1913 would have continued also after.In 1947 appears in Paris an Austrian researcher, the prince Antonin Juritzky, with an important exhibition of stone sculptures of lower and middle Paleolithic. These materials have been collected in France between the two world wars.
Juritzky, born in 1887, was 26 years old in 1913, therefore it is possible that he knew the publications of the great researchers of the Classic Period.
However, the absence of publications on art makes this period irrelevant in Europe.
The old Europe, either for the wars, or for the conservative mentality, begins to lose the primacy it had in science.
A breath of fresh air, which in my opinion was revolutionary, came from Africa, where a more modern class of scientific researchers evidently formed.
The only news I have about discoveries of lower Paleolithic art (pre-art) come from South Africa, and is extraordinarily interesting. A local teacher, W.I. Eitzman, found in 1925 in a cave in Makapansgat a small anthropomorphic stone that was transported there by an australopithecine 3,000,000 years ago, making a path of 4.8 kilometers.
This stone is considered accidental by who has studied it, and however for me it represents, making a relationship with the lithic tools, the accidental tool found made and used before the usual manufacture took place, that is the pre-art.
The stone represents a head of man (Fig. 1) and, turned, represents a head of australopithecus (that is two different hominids), and therefore like type of sculpture is two-faced.
Recently the anthropologist Robert G. Bednarik has taken care of this finding, attributing it from 2.5 to 2.9 million years; previously M.D. Leakey (1971), R.A. Dart (1974), K.P.Oakley (1981), that are between the most important anthropologists for their studies and diggings in East and South Africa, had concerned themselves with it.
In a beautiful report on this form of pre-art, R. A. Dart concludes by saying that "in the australopithecine stage of human development they had already reached a humanoid level of self-realization and self-awareness".
I have not seen the anthropomorphic stone of Makapansgat; I am only familiar with the drawing I present. If authoritative scholars such as Mary Leakey and Raymond Dart support the natural workmanship, i.e. without human retouching, I do not doubt it, however, considering that this stone is two-faced, that it depicts two different types of hominids, that the type of stone is not hard to work, and that it is dated to 2,500,000 years, when tools were already being made, there may have been (my hypothesis) a partial workmanship, whose traces have been destroyed.
From the years '30, L.S.B. Leakey and his wife Mary have begun their researches in the East or Southern Africa, and after 25 years they have had the fortune to find fossil remains of hominids associated to lithic tools, that have revolutionized the studies on the origins of the man.
Equally important has been the discovery by Mary Leakey of a lithic anthropomorphic Oldowan sculpture dated to 1,700,000 years, and published in 1961 - 1963.
THE FOURTH PHASE OF THE RESEARCH (1946 - 2002)
The science of the art of the lower and middle Paleolithic, until 1913 was localized in center-northern France and the Southern England. Then there was the medieval phase between the two world wars on which the curtain fell. After 1946 there was a strong "Renaissance" of research, with discoveries in other countries of Europe, Africa and Asia. The scholars who, with different commitment and cultural extraction, in the second half of the 20th century have been interested in the art of the Lower Paleolithic, belong to the following countries: France, England, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Holland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, U.S.A.
For the first time, after beyond 100 years, in the second half of the 20th century, also some "academic researchers" of remarkable value have been interested in the art of the lower Paleolithic. They were researchers of human fossils, tools and other rests of the material culture, not scholars of art of the lower Paleolithic in the traditional sense. These scholars have had the fortune to find, in datable sites, some sculptures of the lower Paleolithic extremely interesting, (but that, like typology, were already known to the scholars of the art), and they have involved other "academic researchers". About these scholars I will speak next on purpose of the findings of art with "absolute dating", but before a look to the "European private researchers", that re-enter in the tradition of the studies on the art of the lower Paleolithic.
The first researcher of sculptures of the lower Paleolithic of the fourth phase of the researches, of which I have news, has been prince Antonin Juritzky. born in Austria in 1887, he moved to Paris in 1938, where he died in 1961. He was archaeologist, historian of the art, collector, antiquarian, and with several other activities connected with the world of the art.
His collecting activity took place in the 1930s and 1940s in flint-rich surface stations, probably in central-northern France.
His relationship with the official science has not been certainly good, that is he has not awakened any interest in the official science, like his predecessors, as the first showings of his findings took place in Paris in 1947, by exposing in private art galleries. In these displays, he gave his sculptures the designation "Art Brut", which is the name of an avant-garde art movement of the time.
I know only a publication by him (A. Juritzky, 1953).
Juritzky, probably, did not have good knowledge about the working techniques of the silex, and attributed a maximum age of 40,000 years, that at that time was the middle Paleolithic (Fig.8).
From an examination of the photographs in his publication of 1953, we can think that the greater part of the anthropomorphic sculptures have to be attributed to the lower Paleolithic (Acheulean and Clactonian), and a minimal part to the middle Paleolithic; while as concerns some zoomorphic sculptures, from the photographs it's not possible to give a judgment, because the natural shape of the nodule of silex prevails, and the human interventions in order to improve it are not looked at. Important are his two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures, completely worked from every side. It seems that his collection is in danger of dispersal.
Worthy of mention are the new "gatherer collectors"that are at the margins of the science, which are interested a little in prehistory, and in consideration that the the majority of the people does not even know what the prehistory is.
Beginning from first years '60, in the western Europe, begins on large scale a search of Paleolithic lithic artifacts, in surface deposits, by amateurs, of every age, that are not scholars, but collectors.
The collectors of lithic tools that I have known looked only for those "beautiful", and did not collect sculptures; they were and are in greater number.
The collectors of sculptures, instead, did not collect tools, evidently they had different mentality from the collectors of tools.
I met about 20 of these sculpture collectors between 1982 and 1985, and they were all from Western Europe. (Now, as I learned from the Internet, there are also American "gatherer collectors" of Paleolithic sculptures, or presumed to be such).
These collectors did not know not even the working techniques of the lithic tools, consequently in their collections I have found zoomorphic and anthropomorphic stones generally random, but scarce the sculptures of the lower Paleolithic. I have visited the house of one of these collectors, in the Surrey in England, and I have found much interesting material, that came from the surrounding zone of his country house. From an inspection made on the fields, the little lithic industries that I have found were all referable to the Clactonian, therefore the sculptures that he had (sensu lato) can be attributed to the Clactonian. The more important were two two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures in silex, i.e. representation of two human heads joined by the nape, typical, that I had already found in Southern Italy. The greater part of the material, however, were nodules of silex, vaguely zoomorphic, with natural breaches.
These collectors had contacted me after my publication "Presculpture and Prehistorical sculpture" of 1982, in how much they had never succeeded to have information or appraisals from the "academic researchers" of their countries.
I don't like this kind of collecting, because with the time, the sculptures or the tools are dispersed in the wrong places, or destroyed, either because the collector is bored, or because he dies, and the relatives don't care about his collections. However, before doing research in an area, if you have occasion to meet a collector in the area, a visit to the collection can be very helpful.
The "gatherer collectors" generally have two habitudes. There are collectors who only keep few representative pieces, constantly looking at them, and others keeping large amounts, until they forget them.
The collector I visited in Surrey, had tens of chests with sculptures or presumed such, with stones and nodules anthropomorphic and zoomorphic, and also tools and residues of working, all in silex. I employed nearly one week to control all, with remarkable effort, and a certain enjoyment, in how much there was always the hope to find something important, as it happened.
A disconcerting thing of these collectors, but that also occurs among the public in occasion of exhibitions of sculptures and tools of the lower and middle Paleolithic, is their total ignorance about the shape, the use, and the most elementary techniques for making a tool; therefore, they have a great mental confusion, that leads them to see profiles of heads, or images of animals, even in small lithic tools, where the indentation that produces the false image, can have been caused by the usury or the breakage in an alluvial tumbling.
After Juritzky, the "private researchers" who have produced important publications about the art of the lower Paleolithic, are O. Menghin (1961, 1963), A. Rust, G. Steffens (1962), W. Matthes (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966), P. Gaietto (1968, 1974, 1982, 1984, 2000, 2001, 2002), L.Filingeri (1984, 2002) (Fig.4).
There are other researchers, and in much greater number, that have made publications, that are not scientific, but fantastic, even if between their findings can be some valid sculpture, and thus I don't cite neither the names, neither bibliography. The fantastic interpretations can be infinite, but I cite only one, as an example: to connect the myth of Atlantis with the sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic! These publications, beyond being a loss of time to read them, confuse the ideas for who wants to understand the "truth" on these ancient forms of art, in which there is already difficulty, for many scholars, to distinguish the "true from the false", just in the sculpture itself.
The "private researchers" of the art of which, instead, I cite the publications, from Boucher de Perthes to Harroy and until today, have published their findings with scientific criteria, that can be synthesized so:
- drawings and photographies of the sculptures, apt to being interpreted well,
- size of the sculptures,
- finding place,
- description of the subject represented exhaustively,
- cultural attribution and related chronology (sensu lato), according to the personal knowledge of the moment, that are those established for the lithic industries by the "academic researchers".
Personal opinions are necessary, and they are always there, and it is not important that they are all acceptable, since, when the scholar adheres to the previous five descriptions, his opinions are generally in the standard.
In the years '60 appear in Germany the first publications with the highest number of photographs of sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic, made from the first years of the century. These publications are by Walter Matthes, who has the merit to have made researches in the north of the Germany, and in the south of the Denmark, that is in a zone in which the great French and English researchers of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, had never explored.
Walter Matthes was an academic, as he taught prehistory at the University of Hamburg, but unfortunately I must insert him between the "private researchers" and not between the "academic researchers", since his researches have never been accepted from the official science.
Matthes, beyond the sculptures, collected also tools, and he knew how to draw them very well.
In Hamburg he had founded a museum, very beautiful and extremely important, with his sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic, that has had great success, and has been visited from intellectuals of different extraction and from famous scholars of art, between which Herbert Kunh.
Matthes attended international prehistoric conferences, and has been a point of reference of northern European collectors for over 20 years.
The museums of the lower and middle Paleolithic art have short life.
Juritzky placed his sculptures in a museum in Holland; Matthes founded a museum in Germany (near the University); Gaietto founded a museum in Italy (near a Cultural Center); there was much prominence on the press, remarkable affluence of visitors, but absence of representatives of official science.
Today the three museums are closed, with the materials removed from the exhibition halls, and the responsibility lies with an official science, which to define ferocious is little, as it destroys, without even analyzing the works, without even coming to be seen.
The sculptures of the lower Paleolithic that are found in a favorable territory, sometimes seem numerous, but are extremely rare, if it is considered that they have been made in a span of 500,000 years. If then is made a relationship with the rock engravings in the worship places of the Bronze Age (example: Valley of the Wonders, France, 40,000 engravings in 6,000 years), then the rarity of the sculptures of the lower Paleolithic becomes still greater, in how much must be considered that the need of art for the worship rituals has always concerned man in the same measure.
From 1960 Gaietto begins the searches in the most important surface layers of the lower Paleolithic of the South Europe (Italy, France, Spain, Greece); in 1974 he publishes a subdivision of the sculptures in cultural phases (Abbevillian, Acheulean, etc.); in 1982 he publishes a typology, that includes also the evolution of the sculptures.
From 1975 Licia Filingeri begins a research on the art, both on the field, and in the psychological aspects connected to the worship rituals, i.e. to the use of the art.
THE FOURTH PHASE OF THE RESEARCH
TYPOLOGY AND CHRONOLOGY
Typology and chronology are closely connected in stone artifacts of the lower Paleolithic.
Already Boucher de Perthes distinguished the lithic artifacts, found in "diluvial sands", from those found in more recent layers. The human artifacts often were found "in situ", in perfectly defined levels from the stratigraphic point of view. Therefore there was no difficulty in situating these artifacts in time.
The studies on Lower Paleolithic art until 1980 had neither produced a typology nor a chronology, except for a generic attribution to the Lower Paleolithic.
Harroy erroneously assigned his findings to the middle and to the upper Paleolithic; instead, I think that they are to attribute partly to the lower and partly to the middle Paleolithic, and that his typology, very accurate about the coupling in the two-faced anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, concerned the uncommon sculptures and the common ones, but has not been useful in order to prosecute the research on typological basis.
Juritzky dated his sculptures to 40,000 years, that is to the middle Paleolithic, but erroneously, in how much they have to be assigned almost totally to the lower Paleolithic.
Matthes has attributed his sculptures to the lower and middle Paleolithic, rightly.
Neither Juritzky, nor Matthes have set up a typology, but they limited themselves to introduce photographs, of a remarkable variety of types.
To these researchers goes the merit to have collected remarkable amounts of sculptures, that I hope will not go dispersed.
These researchers, until Matthes included, in Europe have not collected sculptures of the Oldowan (Pebble Culture), probably because not existing in the area of their researches.
A typology and a chronology of the lower Paleolithic sculptures now exists (Gaietto, 1982), and has had remarkable improvements (Gaietto 2000, 2001, 2002).
This typology is based on a hundred of sculptures found in Europe, Africa and Asia; each one has a cultural attribution. The most ancient ones belong to the Oldowan, the most recent ones to the Acheulean evolued, to the threshold of the middle Paleolithic.
These types of sculptures are placed in chronological order, following the chronology of the material culture, that, as known, is based on the industries, and that, at the moment, is the more reliable chronology.
The typology of the more ancient phases is constituted from the representation in sculpture of the single head, then in every successive cultural phase there is a progressive increase of types, corresponding also to an increase of the composition of the same sculpture.
The cultural attribution of the lower Paleolithic sculptures is made following two main methods: the affinities between the technique of working of the sculptures and the technique of working of the lithic tools, for which consolidated cultural attributions exist, and the affinities between sculptures and tools consisting of the distinctions based on the physical state (patina, flowing etc).
Typology, cultural attribution and consequent chronology are closely connected, and are based also on other observations:
- the human types represented in the anthropomorphic sculpture, that is representations of heads of hominids (in all or in part the profile of the skull): the more ancient species are found also in the types of more ancient sculptures, also for the technique of chipping. Same evolution in the representation of heads of more recent hominids, with working technique of the sculpture more evolved. Therefore, evolution that corresponds to chronology:
- increase of the composition in the representation: from the single head to the two-faced head, that is two heads joined for the nape; from the single head with the neck to the human head with the vertical body; while for animal heads the increase of the composition is the horizontal body (mammals) without limbs.
They have been classified also sculptures with head of animal and vertical body of human type, and other combinations man-animal, which surely had religious character, and that also are found in the successive periods
- also the style of the sculptures is a component of the archaeological investigation. The style has been theorized as the "language of art" (Gaietto, 1982), in how much, in the representation (sculpture or painting) of a people's period, there is always diversity compared to that of another people, or in the same people in another period. For example, the human head, in a hundred civilizations in time and space, is depicted in a standardized way (the fashion of that people and that time) in a hundred different ways.
The representation of the head can be in a much realistic style, or with abolition of particulars of the face, or lengthened in vertical sense, or lengthened in horizontal sense, or caricatural, or geometric, etc, but it is always a human head. All these variations are the "language of art", that is, depicting the same head in a different way.
The style must not be confused with the shape and the composition of the sculpture.
For how much it can appear strange, to who approaches these searches, also in the lower Paleolithic every sculpture, also those more ancient, have styles much different, that testify the belonging to different periods. The extremes of the style are like in the art of all the successive times, from the proportioned realism to extreme deformations of different type.
It is necessary to hold in consideration, in the analysis of a lithic sculpture, the technological stage, in how much a rough working, does not interfere at all in the style.
The analysis of the style is more laborious in the sculptures obtained from nodules of silex, that, however, are much rare.
The setting of the typology of the sculptures of the lower Paleolithic can comprise also sculptures published with drawings and with photographs many years ago, always if the descriptions and the measures are precise. The work of Boucher de Perthes in this sense is admirable, in how much in the first half of the 19th century he published the sculptures and the tools with drawings, and was extremely precise, since the captions contained the measures (height, width, thickness) of the sculptures. Today, the work of Boucher de Perthes can still be used for typological purposes, to establish the types of sculptures that were in the zones where he made researches.
From the very first years of the 20th century all the sculptures are published in photgraph, with only one photograph, relating to the most important view, and the measures in centimeters are replaced by the dimensions: 1/4, natural size, etc.
In the years '60 of the century just concluded, Matthes, for some sculptures, publishes also three photographies: lateral, posterior, semifrontal, and the measures with the dimensions: 5/9, natural largeness etc. The photographs are black and white.
From the years '70 until today, Gaietto publishes for every sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic also seven photographs, namely from every side, over and under, and a semifrontal view, then he adds one or more drawings of the outline of the sculpture, evidencing the zone of the eye, like centrality of the head, with graphical symbols, for a correct interpretation of the sculpture; while the dimensions are given in centimeters (height, width, thickness). At first the photographs were in black and white, now are in color. Since 1983 Gaietto has also used videos, as they allow him to show the sculpture continuously and without interruptions, as if the observer were holding it in his hands.
THE FOURTH PHASE OF THE RESEARCH
Absolute dating of lithic artifacts, with new technologies, occurs when artifacts are found in datable sites.
In Europe, datable sites of the lower Paleolithic are rare, while in Africa they are frequent.
These modern absolute datings do not replace traditional dating methods, but integrate them; and they have caused quite some havoc among the dating of European and African lithic artifacts, so much so that, personally, I have my doubts that these dating systems have yet to be perfected.
Before entering in merit of the discoveries of the lower Paleolithic sculptures with absolute dating, I consider useful to make an overview on the conventions of official science about absolute datings of hominid fossils and of the cultural cycles, constituted mainly from lithic artifacts, that is from the tools and the sculptures.
The two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures of the lower Paleolithic, that is the sculptures that join two human heads by the nape with look in opposite direction, often represent two human types clearly different one from the other, that testify the coexistence of different species of hominids.
The numerous fossil findings of hominids in Africa testify the coexistence of hominids of different species, of which it was possible to obtain absolute dating, which are as follows:
from 2,500,000 to 2,300,000 years Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus boisei,
from 2,300,000 to 2,000,000 years Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus boisei and Homo habilis,
from 2,000,000 to 1,800,000 years Australopithecus boisei , A. robustus and Homo habilis,
from 1,800,000 to 1,600,000 years Australopithecus boisei, Australopithecus robustus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus,
from 1,600,000 to 1,000,000 years Australopithecus boisei, Australopithecus robustus and Homo erectus,
from 1,000,000 to 700,000 years Australopithecus boisei and Homo erectus,
from 700,000 to 500,000 years Homo erectus (period with scarcity of fossils),
from 500,000 to 200,000 years Homo erectus and Homo sapiens archaic
The industries and the art of the lower Paleolithic are of three types:
- Oldowan (Pebble Culture)
Artifacts on pebble (choppers) and on flake
Artifacts on flake with bifaces (amigdalas)
Artifacts on flake without bifaces
These artifacts have an initial phase with rough products, and a final phase with evolved products.
The most shared dating by the various authors are as follows:
- Oldowan (Pebble Culture) from 2,500,000 to 700,000 years
- Acheulean..........................from 1.500.000 to 200,000 years
- Clactonian..........................from 700,000 to 200,000 years
- Oldowan (Pebble Culture) from 1,000,000 to 700,000 years
- Acheulean......................... from 500,000 to 200,000 years
- Clactonian..........................from 700,000 to 200,000 years
(Note: the Pebble Culture term is no longer in use in Africa, but is still in use in Europe. The Clactonian term is not in use in Africa, but I adopt it in order to define the "industries without bifaces". At Isernia, in Italy, the Clactonian has been dated 736,000 years old).
The three cultural cycles of the Lower Paleolithic in Africa last 2,300,000 years (from 2,500,000 to 200,000 years), while in Europe they last 800,000 years (from 1,000,000 to 200,000 years), so in Africa everything would have started earlier, i.e., 1,500,000 years, but, despite this, African and European artifacts are essentially equal from the beginning to the end of the Lower Paleolithic.
In the chronology of the lower Paleolithic art, in the european-african correlation it is necessary to consider only the cultural phases, as if in Africa and Europe had had the same time length. Dating of Asia is similar to European dating, and consequently (for the art) also to African dating.
Personally, as already said, I have strong doubts on the exactness of the absolute dating, made with the current technologies, in how much, periods of some millions years of human cultural progress, that include periods of 500,000 years without any cultural progress, seem to me definitely against the logic of the evolution. However, I adopt these datings, even if I believe that they do not take any advantage to the study of art of the lower Paleolithic.
Assuming that the European Oldowan deposits have been destroyed by climatic variations, the gap with Africa is still 1,500,000 years; the gap between the African Acheulean and the European Acheulean is 1,000,000 years; while the Clactonian begins 700. 000 years ago simultaneously in the two continents; moreover, the Acheulean in Africa begins 800,000 years before the Clactonian, while the Acheulean in Europe begins 200,000 years after the Clactonian, and, finally, it must be considered that in Africa the Acheulean is more widespread than the Clactonian, and occurs in Europe with 200,000 years of delay.
All these data are decidedly alarming, in how much the artifacts of the three cultural cycles are practically similar in Europe and Africa.
With the end of the lower Paleolithic (roughly 200,000 years ago),new civilizations are found that differentiate Europe from Africa, but there are also prosecutions, as an example: at Kalambo Falls, southeast extremity of Lake Tanganyika, Prof. Desmond Clark has found a final Acheulean very beautiful dated approximately 55,000 years BC. It is therefore fully contemporary with the Mousterian of the western Europe.
One of the more important sculptures of the lower Paleolithic with absolute dating has been found by Mary Leakey in the East Africa. This sculpture is obtained from a pebble, and is worked from every side. (Fig.2). It represents a head of hominid without the neck, with a stylistic deformation of lengthened and caricatural type. But it could also represent a head of humanized animal, that is an artistic hybrid man-animal. It is from the Olduvai Gorge, in a site dated to 1,700,000 years.
The cultural attribution is the Oldowan (Pebble Culture). Size: length cm. 7.5, height cm. 6, unknown thickness.
Another sculpture, same type and cultural phase, has been found in Italy in secondary lying (Gaietto, 1982).
Mary Leakey, with her husband Louis, has always worked in search of fossil hominids and their industries in East Africa; she has never made search on the origins of art, but this sculpture, found also by a lucky chance, appeared so evident to her, that she published a study of it (M. Leakey 1960, 1963).
The sculpture of Olduvai has interested also Raymod Dart, famous for his discoveries in South Africa.
An other important sculpture of the lower Paleolithic with absolute dating has been found at Berekhat Ram, northern Golan, in 1980 by Prof. Naama Goren Imbar of the Archaeological Institute of the Jewish University of Jerusalem (Fig.14).
It's a smallest sculpture that measures only 35 millimeters of height. Carved in volcanic tufa, has two datings from 233,000 to 800,000 years and from 330,000 to 800,000 years, however, I don't know for which reason the "academic researchers" always use the lower datings.
Cultural attribution is Acheulean or Clactonian, as claimed by those who have studied it.
It represents a head with body; the head is looking up; the body seems to have breasts, and therefore the feminine attribution; it's devoid of upper limbs, and the lower limbs are depicted up to knee height. Facial features are not depicted, nor would it have been possible given the small size of the head.
This type of sculpture is the smallest that until today is known, and is similar to other types inserted in the typology of the sculpture of the lower Paleolithic (Gaietto, 1982).
This discovery is due to a lucky case, in how much Prof. Goren Imbar is not a researcher of art of the lower Paleolithic, but she also has the merit of having involved in this study a significant number of important scholars.
The only three sculptures of the lower Paleolithic with absolute dating still have not helped to start in the environment of the "academic researchers", a research on the art of the hominids.
The "stone-figure" of Makapansgat seems have raised some interest, in how much has demonstrated that the Australopithecus that has collected it had almost human faculties, but this find has been considered (erroneously) on the same level as a beautiful colored shell.
I feel like the Oldowan sculpture found by Mary Leakey it's been forgotten.
Today what counts are the new discoveries, and who supports them; therefore a sculpture like that one of Mary Leakey, that has been discovered more than 40 years ago (erroneously) is forgotten.
The sculpture of Berekhat Ram, to the contrary, is of actuality, in how much recently authoritative "academic researchers" have interested of it, but currently the resonance that it has had concerns only its antiquity, that is its "origin" in the lower Paleolithic.
The "academic researchers" don't even know, or don't want to know, that consolidated studies about the art of the lower Paleolithic exist; therefore, since for them the most ancient sculpture is constituted from the "venuses" of the upper Paleolithic, to find a sculpture in the lower Paleolithic is a great discovery, nearly a "miracle".
Today, the concept of "origin",understood like point of departure of the evolution (in our case of the art) seems not to be interesting for the "academic researchers ", who instead are fascinated from the absolute datings, that exceed other datings. However, the sculpture of Berekhat Ram, if it will be supported, that is if it will not enter in the oblivion, could start the researches of the lower Paleolithic art in the world of "academic researchers", like I have assumed in the conclusions.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND DRAWINGS OF SCULPTURES DISCOVERED IN 150 YEARS
FIG. 1 Drawing of an anthropomorphic pebble of reddish-brown jasperite. On the back of the pebble there is a second image, that resembles the face of a hominid. This pebble with two sides, from the scholars is considered casual, but has been used from an hominid like if was a sculpture, and therefore it must be considered the first known shape of PRE-ART, that is the use of the ready-made, before the fabrication.
Found by W.I. EITZMAN in 1925.
Size: 8,3 cm long
Origin: Makapansgat (cave in Valley of the Northern Province, Limpopo, South Africa)
Absolute dating: 3.000.000 years (Dart) and 2.5 - 2.9 million years (Bednarik)
Find studied by Raymond Dart, Mary Leakey and Robert G. Bednarik
(Drawing made from a drawing of Bednarik)
FIG. 2 Drawing of anthropomorphic lithic sculpture, found by MARY LEAKEY in 1960 or previously.
It represents a head of hominid, but perhaps it's an artistic hybrid man -animal.
Style: the stylistic deformation, as artistic language, is already evident.
Measures: they are on the drawing; I don't know the thickness.
Technique of working: it has been described by Mary Leakey.
Origin: Olduvai Gorge (East Africa)
Absolute dating: 1.700.000 years.
Cultural attribution: Oldowan (Pebble Culture)
Find studied by Mary Leakey, Raymond Dart and K.P. Oakley
FIG. 3 Zooantropomorphic lithic sculpture found by ISAIE DHARVENT in 1902 or previously.
It is an old photograph, in which cannot see the parts worked on the nodule of silex. Perhaps it is damaged from alluvial tumbling.
The representation, as interpreted by Dharvent, was the head of a monkey; my interpretation is different: the profile of the head has jaw and human forehead, while the mouth is animal, therefore it's an artistic hybrid.
Size: probably 6 cm. height.
Origin: perhaps Center- North France.
Cultural attribution: probably middle Acheulean.
In this photography the traces of working are not seen and neither the back; moreover the mouth is atypical, perhaps influenced from the shape of the flint nodule, therefore, it is not possible to establish with certainty the authenticity.
FIG. 4 Zooanthropomorphic lithic sculpture found by WALTER MATTHES before 1969.
According to Matthes, it represents a "grotesque head", while in the typology it is an artistic hybrid of man and feracious animal. The jaw is human; the proportion of the height of the head is human; the snout is animal; the mouth is opened wide.
Size: height cm. 8; unknown thickness.
Technique of working: chipped from every part, like is looked at the photograph. The open mouth is obtained from a reentrance of the original shape of the nodule of flint: it is inferred from the lighter color in the mouth, which is the skin that surrounds the flint nodules, which inside are of a dark color.
Origin: Wittenbergen (Northern Germany). Cultural attribution: according to Matthes, lower Paleolithic; but according to the interpretation of the typology and technique of working, we can be more accurate attributing it to the final Acheulean.
FIG. 5 Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture found by JACQUES BOUCHER DE PERTHES probably in the first half of the 19th century .
Boucher de Perthes defined it "human figure". In the current typology, it is classified like human head without the neck, in in front view with opened wide mouth. In the lower Paleolithic sculpture, a mouth opened wide in enormous way is interpreted like "shout", and is understood like one of the first manifestations of "movement".
(For French official science this sculpture is a false, that is a nature joke.)
Size: probably high roughly 15 cm., and this is desumed from the worked parts.
Technique of working: it is obtained from a nodule of silex empty inside. The worked parts, as seen in photograph, are enlargement of the bigger eye; enlargement of the mouth, where the removals are very clear on both sides and below in correspondence to the chin area.
Origin: probably Somme Valley.
Cultural attribution: Final Acheulean, even if there is not certainty, in how much the carved parts are scarce; that is, this is authentic work, but it is atypical for having been obtained from a nodule.
Current destination: probably to the Musée des Antiquités Nationales de Saint-Germain en Laye (France).
FIG. 6 Drawings of lithic sculptures found by JACQUES BOUCHER DE PERTHES and published in "Antiquités Celtiques et Antédiluviennes, de l'industrie primitive ou des Arts à leur origine" (1847 - 1864).
The sculptures represent human heads joined by the nape, looking in opposite direction, that is two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures. They are all typical. Made of silex.
The stylistic deformation of varied type testifies that they belong to different periods of the lower Paleolithic.
The interpretations by Boucher de Perthes were several, and different from the current typology.
Size: length from 5 to 13 cm.
Technique of working: cannot be seen, however, sculptures n° 16 and 16 A appear to have unrounded edges, while the other three sculptures appear to have somewhat rounded edges from alluvial tumbling.
Origin: "alluvial sands" probably of Somme Valley.
Cultural attribution: probably middle Acheulean.
All the sculptures collected by Boucher de Perthes are in great part authentic, and those not authentic, that is false, re-enter in the margins of error, made also by other researchers, with lithic tools and human fossil rests, in the first half of the 19th century.
Boucher de Perthes dies 80 years old in 1868. The ferocity of his enemies not stays; a year after his death, in 1869, in name of the official science, his publications were sent for pulping.
FIG. 7 Drawing of lithic sculpture published by W.M. NEWTON, 1913.
Size: 13 cm. of length.
The technique of workmanship in the drawing can not be seen, but it is probably somewhat rounded from alluvial rolling.
Origin : southern England or northern France.
Cultural attribution: probably middle Acheulean.
Newton attributed this sculpture to an animal head. However, the only drawing is not sufficient for a judgment, in how much a sculpture must be inspected from every part; therefore, it could be interpreted on the left like head of mammal, and on the right like human head: this coupling is frequent.
FIG. 8 Drawing of lithic two-faced anthropomorphic sculpture found by ANTONIN JURITZKY.
(drawing from a photograph published by Juritzky in 1953)
The sculpture represents two human heads joined by the nape with look in opposite direction. It is obtained from a nodule of flint; the eye is constituted from a natural hole; all the parts mostly worked are in the zone that goes from the nose to the frontal part of the jaws, and to all the hollow that joins under the two jaws towards the high.
The human types are archaic, that is hominids with absence of forehead and chin; however, from a drawing it is not possible to establish if they can be found features of Homo erectus or archaic Homo sapiens.
Juritzky thought that this sculpture represented two heads joined, but of ferocious animals, and this can be explained by the fact that, half century ago, there were not still all the knowledge of today on the skulls of the hominids found in Africa. In his typology of two-faced heads, with the hollow for the conjunction of the jaws upwards, he made a distinction of a geometrical type, measured in degrees.
Size: probably about 20 cm. of length.
Technique of working of the flint: large removals, and little refining.
Origin: possibly Center-Northern France.
Cultural attribution: likely Acheulean or middle Clactonian.
FIG. 9 Two-faced anthropomorphic lithic sculpture found by LICIA FILINGERI, 2002.
It represents two human heads joined by the nape with look in opposite direction. The head on the right has the eye obtained from a natural hole in the flint, and is very realistic. It has receding forehead; absence of chin; great nose pushed ahead for a stylistic deformation almost caricatural.
The head on the left is of geometrical type, but this one too has receding forehead and absence of chin, which are two typical characteristics of the head of hominids.
The two heads have two different artistic styles, certainly attributable to two different cultural origins that cohabit, or perhaps for some other reason, that we still do not know.
The clear part of the sculpture is the original peel of the flint slab; while the dark part corresponds to the worked part, that is to the inside color of the flint, that in origin was covered from the peel, before the working.
Fig. 9 Back of the sculpture. There is not the representation of the eye. In the head on the left, between the great nose and the beginning of the jaw, there is a vast chipping ( that can be seen not much in the photograph Fig.9), it seems wanting to indicate the mouth.
Fig. 9 B View of the sculpture from above. It is a technical photograph to show the working of the stone, which is ""cut" all around.
Fig. 9 C View of the sculpture from below. It is a technical photograph to show the workmanship. The stone below is cut with such regularity, that when measured with a set square, it has equal angles on both sides.
Size: lenght cm. 16.5; height cm. 10.5; thickness maximum cm.5,2 and minimum cm. 3.
Technique of working: the sculpture has been obtained from
a flat stone of silex. It has a strong work of removal of material that surrounds all the sculpture, with strong and much accurate chippings for giving the shape. The hole of the eye is of natural origin, but considering that also in other sculptures of lower Paleolithic we find eyes from natural holes, we can suppose that the hole "for" the eye, is part of the choice of the material, if not for inspiration, at least because it was ready-made, since it was difficult to make holes in the flint by percussion with the techniques in use.
Origin: Rodi Garganico (Foggia, Italy) Station of surface.
Cultural attribution: middle Acheulean, or perhaps ancient Acheulean, is not yet known. It has been found from a few days and we are now studying it. The sculpture is not defaced by alluvial tumbling, but has only light traces of transportation, that will be useful for the definitive cultural attribution.
FIG. 10 Zoomorphic lithic sculpture published by THIEULLEN in 1900.
It represents a mammal head, probably a fawn.
In this old photograph, the working traces on the stone are not seen, therefore it is not possible to establish if the sculpture has been obtained from a nodule casually zoomorphic, but retouched, or if it is a totally natural nodule. This sculpture, therefore, could be FALSE, that is an error of interpretation, made by all the first researchers, also with the tools.
Moreover, in the typology of the sculptures of mammals heads of lower Paleolithic, are not represented, neither the ears, neither the neck. However, if the man found them ready-made, it is possible that he utilized them, improving them with few retouches.
Size: probably about 5 cm. height.
Origin: Paris (in a sand quarry, 31 rue Miollis, at 7 meters of depth).
Cultural attribution: generically lower Paleolithic, in consideration that, in the successive periods have not been used nodules of flint for making small sculptures.
FIG. 11 Two zoomorphic lithic sculptures published by E. HARROY in 1902.
They represent two heads of the steg family, which, very probably, are FALSE.
Harroy has been a great scholar, and has compared more than 100,000 "stone-figures", that is an enormous work, involving inevitable ERRORS.
This photograph, old of 100 years, does not allow to understand the type of stone, neither to see the parts worked. Harroy attributes his findings to the middle and the upper Paleolithic, but I have see that a part is to attribute to the lower Paleolithic.
These two "stone-figures" are much evocative, and my suspicion that are FALSE is based on these deductions:
- in the Paleolithic (lower, middle and upper), in the 100 years successive to the discoveries by Harroy, lithic sculptures of Cervids with the horns have not been found.
- in the current typology of the lower and middle Paleolithic sculptures, mammals are represented with the only head and without neck, or with the head and the horizontal body without limbs.
- the measures that Harroy gives of his sculptures of Cervids, that have been numerous, oscillate from 3 to 5 cm. of height. It is a standard of too much small sculptures. Probably he will have found some quarry with small nodules of silex, where he has made great selections, collecting what he liked.
- also the style is useful for this control: in the whole Paleolithic, the greater part of the cultural phases has produced works with strong stylistic deformation, while the "stone-figures" collected by Harroy (including these two Cervid ones) are realistic, proportionate to the natural, and certainly highly selected in their finding.
FIG. 12 Lithic zoomorphic sculpture found by PIETRO GAIETTO in 1970.
It represents a head of mammal with horizontal body and without limbs.
This type of sculpture, in the composition of art, marks the passage from the representation of the single head of animal to the representation of the head of animal with body. However, the representation of the only head persists in parallel.
Size: length cm. 6.5.
Technique of working: the sculpture is in silex, and is worked from every side. The body is realized with longitudinal removals, while the head is modeled with small retouchings. The section of the body has six sides; the section of the head has five sides.
Origin: Rodi Garganico (Foggia, Italy) in surface station.
Cultural attribution: Clactonian or middle Acheulean (in the zone has been dated to 350,000 years in 1975).
FIG. 13 Zooanthropomorphic lithic sculpture found by PIETRO GAIETTO in 1973.
It represents a head of mammal with human vertical body.
This type of representation of artistic hybrid man-animal is found also in the successive prehistorical phases, historical periods and ethnography, where always is connected to the religion.
This type of sculpture, in the composition of the art, marks the passage from the representation of the single head to the representation of the head with human vertical body.
Size: height cm. 6.5.
Technique of working: the sculpture is in silex, and is worked from every side. The body has large removals, while the head has small retouchings.
Origin: Romandato creek (Rodi Garganico, Foggia, Italy).
Cultural attribution: middle Acheulean (in the zone has been dated to 350,000 years in 1975).
FIG. 14 Drawing of the anthropomorphic lithic sculpture found by Prof. NAAMA GOREN-INBAR in 1981.
It represents a naked woman . This type of sculpture precedes of 250,000 - 300.000 years other sculptures of the same type of the upper Paleolithic, said "Venuses", and probably are to the origin of these, also in the cult rituals.
This sculpture, in common with all the "Venuses" of the upper Paleolithic, has absence of hands, of feet and of facial features. Instead, in common with some of these "Venuses" (that in the profile of the head have absence of chin and of forehead, interpreted as neanderthalians), has the head turned back, and consequently look turned up.
This sculpture, between the "Venuses", is the smallest that is known, in how much is high only cm. 3.5. If it had not been found in a deposit that allowed the absolute dating, much probably it would have been attributed to the upper Paleolithic.
For what I was able to understand from the only photograph that I have seen, the right arm is partially sketched, while the legs are truncated above the knees.
The drawing, taken from the photograph, shows the sculpture in almost semifrontal position, in how much it seems to see the two breasts. In the drawing, the eye on the head is "indicative", that is, it is a graphical symbol, in use in the drawings of sculptures of the lower Paleolithic without eyes, to indicate the orbital zone, that constitutes the centrality of the head.
The head is very small, but much accurate and meaningful.
Technique of working: differently from the small sculptures of hard silex, modeled for percussion or for pressure, this sculpture of volcanic tuff, that I imagine as a soft stone, should have been modeled with technique of scraping, that is a technique that was not still known in ages so ancient.
Origin: Berekhat Ram (northern Golan, Israel).
Cultural attribution: Acheulean
Absolute dating: from 233,000 to 800,000 years and from 330,000 to 800,000 years, however there is who uses 233.000 and who 330.000 years.
Interested in this sculpture: Prof. Alexander Marschack (Harvard University), Dr. Francesco D'Errico (Institut de Préhistoire et de Géologie du Quaternaire, Talence, France), Prof. April Nowell (University of Pensylvania), Prof. A. Pelcin, Prof. Paul G. Bahn, Prof. Vertut, and naturally Prof. Goren-Inbar.
The small and "beautiful " sculpture of cm. 3.5 of Berekhat Ram demonstrates, in unequivocal way, that the hands and the brain of the hominids were similar in all to these of Homo sapiens sapiens, and what distinguished them from us was only the technology, that still had not been invented.
Once again I want to remember the intuition of Jacques Boucher de Perthes.
CONCLUSION AND HYPOTHESIS ON THE FUTURE OF THE RESEARCH
In the first half of the 19th century the researchers of human fossils, of tools and of sculptures (stone-figures) were all "amateurs".
With the birth of the prehistory, like authentic science, the researchers of human fossils and the researchers of tools have been replaced from "academic researchers".
The sculptures (stone-figures), that very well studied Boucher de Perthes, were not accepted from the official science of the time, and therefore remained outside of it. But who have continued to be interested in sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic, are not more amateurs, but " private researchers".
The art (stone-figures), namely the sculpture of the lower and middle Paleolithic, not more succeeded to enter in the official science, and today, after 150 years, it is still more difficult, not only for the reasons of the 19th century, that this art resembles the stones, but, also, because the way of considering the man has been transformed in negative sense.
There is an official science that protects the researchers of the fossil rests of hominids, and an official science that protects the researchers of tools and of the material culture. Well, in the circles of these two sciences, for tradition, absolutely does not exist space for a research on the art and the spiritual life of the hominids.
I have not tried to quantify how many are the "private researchers" of art, and how many are the "academic researchers" of the human fossil remains and tools, but I imagine that the "private researchers" can be represented in a small mouse, while the "academic researchers" in a great elephant.
From the universities all over the world exit every year many graduates, great part of which have participated to diggings, and their training is that one of their teachers, where all is based on what has been made before, and are made also important studies, but with total exclusion of the art and the spiritual life of the hominids, as if not had existed, and therefore there is not even posed the problem, and probably, who poses it, if ht manifests it, becomes a "heretic" in the academic background.
The cruel persecution that "academic researchers" have practiced for 150 years against "private researchers" of art, certainly does not concern everyone. Scholars with great openness to the possibilities of man, namely to art, are Raymond Dart, Mary Leakey, Alexander Marshack and Naama Goren Imbar, and probably also others.
Art discoveries, like any other discovery, do not have to stay in a drawer, but they must be communicated
The "private researchers" of art of the lower and middle Paleolithic, in the 20th century, having always found the doors closed in the official science, have addressed themselves directly to the cultured public, through temporary exhibitions, or being able to organize small museums.
These museums after short time have been closed (Juritzky, Matthes, Gaietto) because of fault of the official science, but not of the "academic researchers", but of simple academics, that are not even researchers, that are not interested neither of lower and middle Paleolithic, except that little, that the scholastic texts allow in the university teaching, from where the art is excluded.
I still dwell on the persecutions of official science, in how much integral part of the discoveries of art of the lower and middle Paleolithic, since they have obstacled the diffusion of its knowledge.
These persecutions, obviously, are not from official science, but in the name of official science, that is, of a wrong idealization of science, which unfortunately is very widespread and powerful.
Persecution can be summarized in three main types: total indifference, exclusion from all participation, and offense. I will not dwell on these sad historical arguments, but I will dwell again on the concept of "offense".
Always in the name of science, which is ultimately more dogma than science, museums with Juritzky's, Matthes' and Gaietto's findings have been closed, simply by phone calls, which discredited the works exhibited in the museums. Other phone calls of discredit have been made also to journalists, who had dealt benevolently with museums or sculpture exhibitions.
In spite of all these sufferings, in 150 years, the science of the lower and middle Paleolithic art has gone ahead well, so much that exists a complete outline with a good typology of sculptures for every cultural phase of the lower Paleolithic.
In these studies, beyond to the physical aspect of the sculptures, that is to the methods of control on their authenticity, have been invented methods for the interpretation of the hominids represented in sculpture, for the interpretation of the styles, for the hypotheses on the function of the art itself in the cult rituals, through parallelisms with same types of sculptures in successive Paleolithic periods, in historical periods and in ethnography, and all on evolutionistic base, from the beginning to the end.
The future of the research, that is a further progress of the knowledge, is based on the interest that the "academic researchers" The future of the research, that is a further progress of the knowledge, is based on the interest that the "academic researchers" will have for the art and the spiritual life of the hominids. Otherwise, all will remain like currently.
In order to start a research on the art in the academic world, not are so much important new discoveries of sculptures with absolute dating, even if it could be of stimulus, but it is important to study, that is that new academic researchers are motivated to study the existing material.
It is difficult to make hypothesis, f there is no interest, and therefore no programs.
Space research has programs; Marco Polo and Cristoforo Colombo wanted to discover; Pissarro in America searched for gold for 25 years and then found it; Louis and Mary Leakey searched for 25 years and then they found. They all had that interest, which is still lacking in academia in the search for the art and spiritual life of hominids.
The hypothesis on the future of research is based on the current state, and on hopes, and how these could be realized, in six versions:
1) The private research goes ahead slowly for economic reasons, and also because there is not a generational change, even if arising considerable interest through new channels of global communication, like Internet. However, it has a patrimony of discoveries and studies in exclusiveness on the art of the lower Paleolithic.
2) The academic search, that is based only on findings of sculptures with absolute dating, is only to the beginnings, and could have an own run, but the times are very long, and it is not known, if and when other datable sculptures will be found; in fact the last sculpture until today is that one of Berekhat Ram, that has been discovered 22 years ago.
3) The third solution could be that the "academic researchers", which are interested in the sculptures with absolute dating, would be interested also in the typologies of the art of the "private researchers", so they at least could understand, and also do surface research, no more nor less than the tool research was conducted. Obviously this would be depending on the willingness and interest of some isolated academic researcher, who could, however get the research in motion in not too much time.
4) Between the less probable eventualities, but to hold in consideration, the blossoming of a "fashion" of researchers of sculptures of the lower and middle Paleolithic involving all. In the last years there has been a crescendo of discoveries of paintings in cave and in shelters under rock in Australia and Africa, demonstration that the searchers are many, and, therefore, there could be the possibility of a new interest also for the sculpture of the lower Paleolithic.
5) An other interesting possibility (always if the problems of the origins of art and the spirituality of the hominids are perceived), could be realized by one or more universities in collaboration between them.
The teachers would have to promote an inquiry on all the studies that are known about Lower and Middle Paleolithic art from Boucher de Perthes to the present, including recent discoveries with absolute dating. This should be an exciting inquiry for students.
Such an action could open the way, in the academic world, to the research and the study of the art of the lower Paleolithic.
6) Perhaps the more interesting solution would be an agreement between scholars of art of every phase of the prehistory (lower, middle, upper Paleolithic; Mesolithic, Neolithic, Age of the metals), that groups all the applications of the art (sculpture, painting, rock engravings, art applied to tools and objects). On other hand, the study of the art of the lower Paleolithic is closely tied to the successive periods for many interpretations; as the study of the successive periods is tied to the lower Paleolithic for the origins, and for the several forms of art that suddenly appear, and of which it is necessary to understand the evolution. Therefore, a great field of action is opened.
Vast fields of action have them also the others two disciplines, in fact, the researchers of fossils of hominids operate also to hundred million years beyond the beginning of the fabrication of tools; while the researchers of tools and the material culture, do not exceed the threshold of the fabrication of the tools, but they operate in all the successive prehistory.
Currently exist these two predominant disciplines (with 150 years of starting), with their two official sciences, that have their publications, of which I give a synthesis: generally in the books of fossils of hominids are published photographs of fossil rests, and some tools, but no art; instead, in the books of tools are published photographs and drawings of tools in abundance, and sometimes some photograph of fossilized rests of hominids, and the art is absent, or extremely rare. Usually the art is used for decorating the cover of these books, and I refer to art of the upper Paleolithic or the protohistory.
The prehistoric art, beautiful or ugly that can be, interests the people always more than the human skeletal rests and the lithic tools; instead, more books of skeletal rests and tools are published, rather than of art; indeed, the scientific books of art are extremely rare.
It is hoped that the researchers of art of all the prehistory agree, and that a third official science for the art will be born, and that they will be activated mainly studies on typologic , chronological and therefore evolutionary basis.
The art studied for periods finalized to themselves, in the Paleolithic doesn't have sense; besides the processes of the evolution of the art join all the prehistoric art.
Study material is certainly not lacking: a UNESCO census of about 15 years ago allowed to estimate in over 20 million the number of rock figures preserved, belonging to many tens of thousands of sites. Lower Paleolithic art is still the poorest of finds, but it spans a period of time that constitutes 92% of human life.
Discoveries of Lower Paleolithic art will continue, and I hope, will be numerous, but it is even more important that they become objects of study on a typological basis, otherwise they will be useless discoveries.
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