Atlantis Online

the Ancient World => Neolithic Europe => Topic started by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:46:51 am

Title: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls - UPDATES
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:46:51 am

The mammoth art seen above, in the Arcy-sur-Cure near Burgundy, France, is located in the most resonant part of the main cave.

Arcy-sur-Cure is one of at least ten sites where paleolithic cave sketches are clustered in particularly resonant spots, suggesting a link between art and music in paleolithic rituals, an expert announced in July 2008.

La Varende,

M. Girard

Iegor Reznikoff

Title: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:49:19 am

                                   Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls

Ker Than
for National Geographic News
July 2, 2008

Prehistoric peoples chose places of natural resonant sound to draw their famed cave sketches, according to new analyses of paleolithic caves in France.

In at least ten locations, drawings of horses, bison, and mammoths seem to match locations that focus, amplify, and transform the sounds of human voices and musical instruments.

"France's Magical Ice Age Art" in National Geographic Magazine Earliest Oil Paintings Found in Famed Afghan Caves (February 6, 2008)

"In the cave of Niaux in Ariège, most of the remarkable paintings are situated in the resonant Salon Noir, which sounds like a Romanesque chapel," said Iegor Reznikoff, an acoustics expert at the University of Paris who conducted the research.

The sites would therefore have served as places of natural power, supporting the theory that decorated caves were backdrops for religious and magical rituals.

An intriguing possibility—but one that Reznikoff admits is hard to test—is that the acoustic properties of a cave partly influenced what animals were painted on its walls.

For example, "maybe horses are related to spaces that sound a certain way," he said.

Reznikoff will present his latest findings this week at the annual meeting of the Acoustics Society of America in Paris.

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:51:19 am

Strategic Placement

Reznikoff first noticed the strategic placement of cave art while visiting Le Portel, a paleolithic cave in France, in 1983.

An expert in the acoustics of 11th- and 12th-century European churches, Reznikoff often hums to himself when entering a room for the first time so he can "feel its sounds."

He was surprised to discover that in some of the rooms in Le Portel decorated with painted animals, his humming became noticeably louder and clearer.

"Immediately the idea came," he told National Geographic News. "Would there be a relationship between the location of the painting and the quality of the resonance in these locations?"

Since that moment, Reznikoff has found correlations between painting locations and the resonance of their surroundings in more than ten paleolithic caves across France with illustrations ranging from 25,000 to 15,000 years old.

Many are packed together in parts of the caves where the human voice is amplified and where songs and chants would have lingered in the air as abiding echoes.

Paul Pettitt, a paleolithic rock art expert at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. who was not involved in the study, said Reznikoff's theory could explain the puzzling distribution of paintings at many cave sites.

"In a number of decorated caves the images cluster in certain areas," Pettitt said. "They are not randomly distributed but seem deliberately placed, with areas of perfectly 'paintable' walls ignored, and in a number of cases the paintings cluster in areas of resonance."

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:52:27 am

Artistic Connection

Ian Cross, director of the Centre for Music and Science at the University of Cambridge, was not involved in the study.

Cross said Reznikoff's theory is "interesting" and warrants further investigation.

"What he's done strongly suggests that there are grounds for following this up with some properly controlled studies" involving detailed acoustical measurements, Cross said.

Pettitt, the University of Sheffield archaeologist, said Reznikoff's research is consistent with other work that suggests music and dance played an integral role in the lives of ancient people.

Instruments such as bone flutes and "roarers"—bone and ivory instruments that whir rhythmically when spun—have been found in decorated caves.

In rare instances, cave images include highly stylized females who appear to be dancing or enigmatic, part-animal "sorcerer" figures engaging in what seem to be transformational dances.

"This is therefore an artistic connection between dance and art. Perhaps in this case the art is recording specific ritual events," Pettitt said. "It is inconceivable that such rituals would have taken place in silence." 

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:54:03 am

Fashioned from a griffon vulture's wing bone, this flute (shown from different angles and with finger holes enlarged in inset) may be the world's oldest instrument, a June 2009 study says.

The 40,000-year-old flute, found in a German cave, bolsters the argument that music helped modern humans bond—to the detriment of competing, presumably music-less Neanderthals—the study says.

Photograph by
H. Jenen,

University of Tübingen

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:54:51 am

                                               Bone Flute Is Oldest Instrument

James Owen
for National Geographic News
June 24, 2009

A vulture-bone flute discovered in a European cave is likely the world's oldest recognizable musical instrument and pushes back humanity's musical roots, a new study says.

Found with fragments of mammoth-ivory flutes, the 40,000-year-old artifact also adds to evidence that music may have given the first European modern humans a strategic advantage over Neanderthals, researchers say.

The bone-flute pieces were found in 2008 at Hohle Fels, a Stone Age cave in southern Germany, according to the study, led by archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen in Germany.

With five finger holes and a V-shaped mouthpiece, the almost complete bird-bone flute—made from the naturally hollow wing bone of a griffon vulture—is just 0.3 inch (8 millimeters) wide and was originally about 13 inches (34 centimeters) long.

Flute fragments found earlier at the nearby site of Geissenklösterle have been dated to around 35,000 years ago.

The newfound flutes, though, "date to the very period of settlement in the region by modern humans ... about 40,000 years ago," Conard said.

The mammoth-ivory flutes would have been especially challenging to make, the team said.

Using only stone tools, the flute maker would have had to split a section of curved ivory along its natural grain. The two halves would then have been hollowed out, carved, and fitted together with an airtight seal.

(Also see "Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls.")

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:57:28 am

Music as a Weapon?

Music may have been one of the cultural accomplishments that gave the first European modern-human (Homo sapiens) settlers an advantage over their now extinct Neanderthal-human (Homo neanderthalis) cousins, according to the team.

The ancient flutes are evidence for an early musical tradition that likely helped modern humans communicate and form tighter social bonds, the researchers argue.

"Think how important music is for us," Conard said. "Whether it's at church, a party, or just for fun, you can see how powerful music can be. People often hear a song and cry, or feel great joy or sorrow. All of those kinds of emotions help bond people together."

Music may therefore have been important to maintaining and strengthening Stone Age social networks among modern humans, allowing for greater societal organization and strategizing, said Conard, whose study appears today on the Web site of the journal Nature.

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 07:58:37 am

Sour Note?

Some may doubt, though, that modern humans made the newfound flutes, or even that the instruments are the oldest on record.

A cave-bear bone found at a Stone Age site in Slovenia has been suggested as an even older flute, and perhaps even Neanderthal in origin. But many archaeologists are unconvinced, due to the ambiguous appearance of the bone.

"I don't think anyone takes that find too seriously," Conard said.

Even so, the archaeologist admits he can't completely rule out the possibility the newfound flutes were actually made by Neanderthals.

But, he said, decorative artifacts found alongside the flutes—most notably a recently reported ivory figurine of a woman with an exaggerated figure—make a Neanderthal origin "extremely unlikely," Conard said.

Around the flutes were "all kinds of things we never find with Neanderthals, and it seems a lot more plausible that they were made by modern humans," he said.

Lost in the debate is what would have likely been the key question among the flutes' prehistoric creators: How do they sound?

Last week a replica of the vulture-bone flute was sent to a professional musician, who coaxed out low-pitched sounds across a wide range of tones, Conrad said.

Renditions of the German national anthem and "Amazing Grace" made clear that the prehistoric flute is a truly different beast from modern-day instruments. Or, Conrad suggested, maybe the player just needs a little more time with it.

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Bianca on June 25, 2009, 12:07:39 pm


Ancient cave paintings.

Ancient hunting scene painted in a cave in
Santa Cruz, Patagonia, Southern Argentina.

Pablo Caridad)

                                     Music Went With Cave Art In Prehistoric Caves

(July 5, 2008) —

Thousands of years later, we can view stone-age art on cave walls, but we can't listen to the stone-age music that would have accompanied many of the pictures. In many sites, flutes made of bone are to be found nearby.

Iegor Reznikoff of the University of Paris reports that the most acoustically resonant place in a cave -- where sounds linger or reverberate the most -- was also often the place where the pictures were densest.

And when the most-resonant spot was located in a very narrow passageway too difficult for painting, red marks are often found, as if the resonance maximum had to be signified in some way. This correlation of paintings and music, Reznikoff says, provides "the best evidence for the ritualistic meanings of the paintings and of the use of the adorned caves."

Proceeding into the direction of the best resonance (or echo) that answers to vocal sounds, one is naturally lead to panels with pictures. At the very least, in the dark caves, where hand-held light sources fall off in effectiveness, singing (and listening for resonant reactions) proved to be the best sonar-like way of exploring the caves. A significant returning sound gave some hint of a usable hall ahead in the dark.

On the 5th and 6th of July, Reznikoff will conduct a tour of a prehistoric cave where he will show some examples of the sound-picture relationship. He will also lead a visit to the Basilica of Vezelay where he will illustrate the magnificent resonance. (Talk 4pAAa1, " Sound resonance in prehistoric times: A study of Paleolithic painted caves and rocks" was presented July 3, 2008.)


Adapted from materials provided by American Institute of Physics, via Newswise.
Email or share this story:| More Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:

 MLA American Institute of Physics (2008, July 5). Music Went With Cave Art In Prehistoric Caves. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 25, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/07/080704130439.htm

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls
Post by: Qoais on June 26, 2009, 12:01:38 am
Perhaps it also depicts a "pied piper" effect.  Animals love music.  They would follow it if it was pleasing (I don't mean hard rock!!)  I used to sit on the front stoop playing the accordian down home on the farm, and was stunned one day when I looked up to see all the cows standing with their heads hanging over the fence in a state of blissfull stupefication!!  Music it seems, can cause mood effects in animals as well as people.  If they wanted to the lead the animals to a certain place, say instead of chasing them in a hunt, it wouldn't be hard to do with lovely music.

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls - UPDATES
Post by: Bianca on July 01, 2009, 11:21:34 am


                                               Prehistoric European Cave Artists Were Female   



Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls

PICTURES: Hand Stencils Through Time

June 16, 2009
National Geographic

--Inside France's 25,000-year-old Pech Merle cave, hand stencils surround the famed "Spotted Horses" mural.

For about as long as humans have created works of art, they've also left behind handprints. People began stenciling, painting, or chipping imprints of their hands onto rock walls at least 30,000 years ago.

Until recently, most scientists assumed these prehistoric handprints were male. But "even a superficial examination of published photos suggested to me that there were lots of female hands there," Pennsylvania State University archaeologist Dean Snow said of European cave art.

By measuring and analyzing the Pech Merle hand stencils, Snow found that many were indeed female--including those pictured here.

(Also see: pictures of hand stencils through time.)

—Photograph courtesy
Dean Snow 

National Geographic

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls - UPDATES
Post by: Bianca on July 01, 2009, 11:33:17 am

Analyzing hand stencils dating back some 28,000 years in Spain's El Castillo cave, archaeologist Dean Snow concluded many of El Castillo's artists had been female.

"The very long ring finger on the left is a dead giveaway for male hands," he said. "The one on the right has a long index finger and a short pinky--thus very feminine."

His findings suggest women's role in prehistoric culture may have been greater than previously thought.

—Photographs by
Roberto Ontanon Peredo,

Dean Snow

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls - UPDATES
Post by: Bianca on July 01, 2009, 11:35:48 am

Just as in prehistoric times, visitors today can leave behind handprints at Spain's Maltravieso cave, a Paleolithic site dating back more than 20,000 years. "Elena's hand [pictured] was typical for little girls," said Snow.

Hand proportions vary across populations. To assess prehistoric handprints from Europe, Snow used modern hands for comparison.

"I had access to lots of people of European descent who were willing to let me scan their hands as reference data," said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration.

(The National Geographic Society
National Geographic News.)

—Photograph courtesy
Dean Snow

Title: Re: Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls - UPDATES
Post by: Bianca on July 01, 2009, 11:38:05 am

In France's Gargas cave, a late Paleolithic left-hand stencil glows green from a night vision camera. Archaeologist Dean Snow concluded the hand was female.

"We don't know what the roles of artists were in Upper Paleolithic society [roughly 40,000 to 20,000 years ago] generally," he said. "But it's a step forward to be able to say that a strong majority of them were women."

Snow's research was limited to Europe, but he hopes others will do similar studies at prehistoric sites elsewhere.

(Also see: pictures of hand stencils through time.)

—Photograph courtesy
   Dean Snow