The Birth of Art – The Old Stone Age (Upper Paleolithic)

The inception of the Upper Paleolithic Age (the last subdivision of the Old Stone Age) was a turning point in human history, when human competence started rising. The tools of the old age gave way to the new thinner, sharper, and more evenly shaped ones. This evolution in the Old Stone Age became conducive to the development of art also, with all its ramifications into the figurative and the non-figurative styles.

Art in the Upper Paleolithic Age was born in the form of perforated teeth, which found extensive use in the form of necklaces. Sculpted bones with engraved animal statuettes and ivory works were the other existent art forms. The other type of art that was fixed or stationary in nature was ‘Cave Painting.’ It is believed that these paintings served magical or ritualistic purposes. These pictures often give a good idea about the lifestyle of the Upper Paleolithic Age through the portrayal of hunting and fight scenes. The characters in these images were simple in structure, mostly stick figures.

The colors used in paintings were made from ochre, minerals, burnt bone meal, and charcoal, mixed with water, tree sap, blood, & animal fat. The Upper Paleolithic Age artists used either hairbrushes or twigs as tools. There was a great use of fingers as well in paintings. Apart from this, the other methods used for artistry were daubing, sketching, dotting, and spray painting by mouth or by using hollow bones. Special effects, such as shadowing and foreshortening were also imparted with great skill and perfection.

An abundance of female imagery is found in the Upper Paleolithic Age painting, supporting the belief of archeologists that the society of that era was female centered. These images also contain the pornographic representation and portraits of women. The other important theme for artistic capturing was wild hunting, depicting a handful of men with wild beasts and similar themes.

In addition, evidences suggest that the Paleolithic Age witnessed the birth of music, which was characterized by human voices and natural objects, such as the use of rocks as musical instruments. The development in language might have boosted the evolution of music. One school of thought holds the opinion that music found place in human life in the Old Stone Age to produce a rhythm in day-to-day activities. However, a different theory proposed by Charles Darwin, suggested that the use of music was more of a mating strategy, as birds do to call their mates. Later in the Paleolithic Age, hollow bones were being used as flutes and other musical instruments. Music must have played a greater role in religious rituals and social gatherings during the Old Stone Age or the Upper Paleolithic Age.