The sophistication and complexity of the Paleolothic cave paintings in relation to their age is truly marvelous. With examples of animals, humans, and other geometric subjects pertaining to life within the 40,000-10,000 BCE period, the paintings are full of information based on observations of the Homo-Sapien artist during their time. With various techniques and styles, the paintings may have served a number of functions that could include ritualistic, educational, religious, as well as surpassing any singular reasoning and instead transcending across multiple meanings and uses. While any discussion of the paintings from the Paleolithic era may be conjecture due to lack of supporting evidence, it is interesting to note that one cannot discuss Paleolithic art without it having to be an object of meaning. While one can draw conclusions about the art and its ties to shamanism, hunter gatherer tendencies, educational merits – the presence of animals that were not hunted as well as female figures who did not fulfill the role of the hunter all provide exceptions to almost any theory. The issue in attempting to asses artwork from the Paleolithic era is that the variety in the styles presented in paintings and the content and context of one image is not limited to itself but is instead generally part of a larger system of murals and artwork found throughout the particular cave system. Further, the visual perception of the art is predicated by the cultural interpretation of the viewer. Instead of questioning the context and underlying meanings of the art work, for the Paleolithic era it is more important to question how was the art created as well as why it was created.
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