Neolithic Advances
As Marjorie Munstenberg explains, “Formal analysis is a specific type of visual description. Unlike ekphrasis, it is not meant to evoke the work in the reader’s mind. Instead it is an explanation of visual structure, of the ways in which certain visual elements have been arranged and function within a composition. Strictly speaking, subject is not considered and neither is historical or cultural context. The purest formal analysis is limited to what the viewer sees. Because it explains how the eye is led through a work, this kind of description provides a solid foundation for other types of analysis."
How Art Made the World,
Episode 1: More Human than Human
Woman of Willendorf and the Venus of Lespuge,
Mammoth ivory, Height 7 13/16".











Chauvet Cave,
Vallon-Pont-D'Arc, Ardeche Gorge, France


Jean Marie Chauvet in the cave after its discovery in 1994












Horses and rhinos, Chauvet

Aurochs, horses, and rhinoceroses, wall painting in the Chauvet Cave, France, ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE.











Current entrance to Chauvet Cave












Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams











Current entrance to Chauvet Cave











Horses, Chauvet cave
Horses, Chauvet cave painting, ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE.











Felines, Chauvet cave,
ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE
Bear, Chavuet cave, ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE.











Engraved Horse, Chauvet cave, ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE.
Engraved Stag, Lascaux, ca. 16,000 - 14,000 BCE.
Similarities between Prehistoric cave markings
  • Abundant and varied images of animals
  • Animals rendered naturalistically and with skill
  • Animals typically illustrated in profile
  • Although figures rendered with exacting detail, no attempt to depict ground or background
  • Tendency to place images high on cave wall surface & out of reach
  • Images of humans are rare
  • When human figure is depicted, it is abstract in comparison to depictions of animals











Cave bear altar at Chauvet
Cave Bear Skull Altar, Chauvet


Animism = the belief that nature is filled with spirits











Womanly form with Bison, Chauvet Cave


Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams

42:30 and 1:07:20











Woman of Willendorf, Austria, ca. 28,000 - 25,000 BCE. Limestone, 4 3/8" high.


More on the Discovery of the Woman of Wilendorf











modern pregnant woman
Woman of Willendorf, ca. 28,000 - 25,000 BCE.











Woman of Willendorf and the Venus of Lespuge,
Mammoth ivory, Height 7 13/16".
Woman from Brassempouy, France, c. 30,000 BCE. Ivory, height 1 1/4".











Venus of Berekhart Ram
Venus of Tan-Tan
Venus of Berekhat Ram
c. 230,000 - 700,000 BCE
Venus of Tan-Tan
c. 200,000 - 500,000 BCE or later











Hohle Fels
Venus of Dolni Vestonice
Venus of Hohle Fels (Germany)
c. 35,000 BCE
Venus of Dolni Vestonice
(Czech Republic)
c. 26,000 - 24,000 BCE











Venus of Moravany
Venus of Lespugue
Back of the Venus of Lespugue
Venus of Moravany
(Czech Republic)
c. 24,000 - 22,000 BCE
Venus of Lespugue
c. 23,000 BCE











Neolithic Era,"New Stone Age"
8,000 to 2,300 BCE

Age of food production

ca. 8000 - 1000 BCE
plants and animals domesticated
ca. 4500 - 1500 BCE
megalithic tombs and monuments erected
ca. 3300 - 3000 BCE .
earliest writing developed

cunieform clay tablet

Cro Magnon man (anatomically modern) replaces Neanderthal

Humans make more refined tools

Shift from migratory to agrarian lifestyle

Modern language developed along with earliest forms of writing

Cuneiform clay tablet from present-day Iraq,
c. 3200 BCE.