Lecture 4. The Magdalenian Culture and the Cave Art Tradition

created by:

Mark Jarzombek

from the module:

First Societies

Rock Art accompanied all First Society cultures the world over. Its meaning and purpose can only be known through conjecture. This lecture introduces some examples and introduces the idea of Sacred Landscape. The lecture moves to what are certainly the most spectacular examples – the caves in southern France and northern Spain, made by the Magdalenian Culture. The history of these caves is not known definitively, but they were probably begun by the Gravettians. As the climate warmed, and they became more accessible, the number of sacred caves multiplied. People were no longer big game hunters, but lived in a world that had a more diverse fauna. The new people – known as the Magdalenians, and named after an archaeological site – used the caves as ritual centers. Large numbers of people gathered for ceremonial activities – not inside the cave, but in their vicinity. The caves were painted by people with extraordinary skills. How were these skills developed? What happened in these caves? Why did this culture die out? How early are these caves? No one knows, but it is likely that they were first put to use by the Gravettians and expanded dramatically during the Magdalenian Period.

supporting documents:


Lecture Notes

Quiz with Answers