Meaning of Prehistoric Art
Art, from the Latin ars, is the nation that allows us to refer to the creations of the human being that express a sensible vision of the imaginary or real world through the use of linguistic, plastic or sound resources.
Prehistoric is that belonging to or relating to the period that prehistory studies. This last term, for its part, is linked to human life existing before the development of writing (which emerged around 3,000 BC).
According to DigoPaul, the concept of prehistoric art, therefore, makes mention of the artistic manifestations of primitive peoples. The expression is often used to name very diverse historical periods and geographically distant creations, which makes prehistoric art contain very diverse works.
At a general level, it can be said that prehistoric art is characterized by schematism, symbolism and abstraction. They are expressions with ritual or mythical-religious purposes, unlike modern art, which aims at aesthetics.
The rock art is a manifestation of prehistoric art. These drawings were made on rocks or on cave walls. Some paintings are about 40,000 years old and are still preserved since, being inside caves, they managed to resist the passage of time.
Prehistoric art used to depict hunting scenes or figures associated with deities. In addition to paintings, prehistoric sculptures can be mentioned, which in Europe were developed during the Paleolithic period. Bones, ivory plates, rocks and metals made it possible to create these sculptures.
Among the most important prehistoric works of art is the Venus of Willendorf, a statuette of female forms that is associated with the group generally known as Paleolithic Venus. It is a series of sculptures that share characteristics such as its exaggerated feminine attributes and its size.
In the particular case of Willendorf, its height is approximately 11 centimeters, it has a covered face and it does not have a base that allows it to stand upright. Its discovery took place in 1908 in a paleolithic settlement on Austrian soil, during an excavation. It is estimated to have been created between the years 24,000 and 22,000 BC, and today it is possible to admire it at the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
On the other hand, representing the cave painting is the shrunken bison from the Altamira cave, in Cantabria, Spain. The importance of this work is multiple, since it is located on the site where the first paintings of this nature were discovered, all belonging to the Upper Paleolithic and very well preserved.
When in 1879 the human being found (for the second time) the Altamira cave, scientists doubted the authenticity of the paintings, since everything seemed to have been orchestrated. But once works with similar features were found in other caves, both within Spain and in France, the truth prevailed over disbelief, and justice could be done to this impressive legacy. It is worth mentioning that the artistic value of the shrunken bison is comparable to that of the Sistine Chapel and its age is close to 15 thousand years.
Finally, Stonehenge is a monument whose immense popularity exceeds the limits of knowledge and interest in prehistoric art. Its diameter is just over 100 meters and it is calculated that it was built between the years 3100 and 1600 BC, a term that links the end of the Neolithic period and the beginning of the Bronze Age. Its importance is due to the fact that it raises a large number of questions regarding its origin, especially due to the sophistication of its architecture, which does not seem to have competition in its historical context.