Prehistoric Animated Cave Drawings Discovered In France

    June 14, 2012
    Amanda Crum
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News out of France concerning Prehistoric cave drawings that were animated by torch-light is taking the art history world by storm, and has overwhelmed this artist to the point of awe.

The cave drawings were found by archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere, who suggest that Paleolithic artists who lived as long as 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls, which explains the multiple heads and limbs on animals in the drawings. The images look superimposed until flickering torch-light is passed over them, giving them movement and creating a brief animation.

“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,” Azéma said.

Azema and other archaeologists have found small disks called thaumatropes which were carved from bone in Paleolithic times and acted as a crude, mini movie camera by tricking the eye. Azema thinks these artists used similar tools to create the drawings, which give us a glimpse at the first origins of what we know as cinema…and they did it well before those credited with the invention in the 19th century.

Azema and Rivere have published their amazing findings in the most recent issue of Antiquity and say it is a significant find for humanity.

“Prehistoric man foreshadowed one of the fundamental characteristics of visual perception, retinal persistence,” Azéma and Rivère write.

  • alanborky

    Amanda I’ve only just discovered this site and I can tell you it’s certainly not crummy!

    [Forgive me I love puns and I couldn’t resist].

    This Stone Age animation business doesn’t surprise me [and not because of The Flintstones!] but it revives in a new form something I’ve long puzzled over.

    There’s a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci which does a similar thing with pigeons. In fact I think I read somewhere he used to buy cages of them at markets simply to release them and watch how they took off.

    The thing is I’ve long wondered if as some’ve suggested he took some sort of narcotic to speed up his perceptions of the birds and thus make them appear to slow down.

    Or was he like people like me naturally prone to such temporal effects?

    I now find myself wondering the same about these cave artists.

    Were they simply reconstructing what they imagined must be happening or where they recording actual perceptions?

    And if so were they natural perceptions or chemically induced?

    My money now’s on the likelihood such abilities were once much more natural and widespread and much like I was able to do at certain times as a kid humans once upon a time we were all able to speed up or slow down our temporal perceptions at will.