The Cave Painters

Published By: Anchor

Book Category: Non-Fiction,

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Reviewed by Cerri Ellis

Subtitled: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists

The late nineteenth century was a time of innovation and invention, but also a time of exploration into Earth’s distant past. As a result, the public’s fascination with ancient artifacts produced many amateur archeologists. Don Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola had been at the world exhibition in Paris and became intrigued by an exposition of ancient objects. Fueled by the fire of imagination, he returned home and set out to excavate a cave known to be on his property. In 1879, Sautuola’s young daughter Maria, turned her father’s attention from the cave’s floor to the ceiling in one of the dimly lit “halls,” calling out ‘Look, Papa, oxen’ as she pointed above.

The discovery brought ancient cave paintings to widespread public attention, and started what was to become an intense debate about their origin and meaning that still lingers today.

In The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists, the author shares his own awe and fascination for cave paintings and discusses the various theories held among the scientific community. What was the purpose of the paintings? Were they part of some hunting or fertility ritual? Perhaps they were created for shamanistic purposes? Or were they merely part each artist’s own clan folklore–their version of an oral storytelling tradition?

Curtis’ book offers more than hypothesis, it allows you to partake in the wonder, the reverence and beauty of perhaps humanity’s earliest artistic creations. The book includes both black and white illustrations, and an 8-page color insert on glossy paper.

Armchair Interviews says: Ideal book for anyone intrigued by these early storytellers.

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