Neolithic Shift
“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed. Art has remembered the people, because they created.” – William Morris

How Art Made the World,
Episode 1: More Human Than Human
Handprints, dots, and partial drawings at Chauvet, ca. 30,000 BCE.











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.











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.











Prehistoric Sites
The Ice Age ended gradually and unevenly among regions. Prehistoric people responded to new climactic conditions with new hunting technologies and adaptations.
Paleontologists have traditionally held that changes in the environment seem to have facilitated a more sedentary way of life, and a shift from hunting to husbandry.
When determining neolithic onset in a region, archaeologists look for signs of:
  • An organized system of agriculture
  • The maintenance of herds of animals
  • Permanent, year-round settlements













Woman from Cernavoda
  • Along with the shift from hunting to husbandry came changes in representation
  • Paleolithic works tend to be more realistic while neolithic, more abstract
  • Neolithic works are generally utilitarian and become increasingly larger
  • Humans rarely depicted in paleolithic art
  • Neolithic works often suggest spiritual practice
c. 30,000 - 26,000 BCE.
Mammoth ivory, height 11 5/8".
Woman from Cernavoda, Romania,
c. 3500 BCE. Ceramic, height 4 1/2".











Seated Venus of Catalhoyuk
Dreamer of Malta
Seated Venus of Çatalhöyük
(Turkey and Syria)
c. 7,000 - 5,500 BCE
Dreamer of Malta
c. 3,000 BCE











beaker with animal decoration
Farming required new tools
Tools for grinding, cutting, and chopping
Pottery for storage
Neolithic people employed perishable materials such as wood, for their tools much more than paleolithic pre-humans
Beaker with animal decoration, Susa,
c. 4000 BCE.











Neolithic Chinese pot

evolution of writing schematic

Neolithic Chinese Pot, c. 3500 BCE.

Evolution of writing











Map of Neolithic Sites









Neolithic tower at Jericho

Early Neolithic wall and tower, Jericho, Jordan, ca. 7000 BCE.


Sun-Dried brick wall 5 feet thick and nearly 20 feet tall. Adjacent stone tower was 28 feet tall.












Plastic Skull from Jericho
Human skulls with restored features, from Jericho, c. 7200 - 6700 BCE. Skulls, plaster, shells.












Gobekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
(pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh)
  • Göbekli Tepe has over turned many of our theories on the neolithic "revolution"
  • Original site was constructed without metal tools, wheels, or animal labor
  • Göbekli Tepe was built by hunter gatherers who did not make or use pottery
  • This site appears to have been used strictly for ceremonial rather than domestic purposes
Göbekli Tepe, c. 10,000 - 8,000 BCE.











Göbekli Tepe excavation site
Researchers once believed that climate change permitted the development of farming, and that argiculture was the spark that suddenly prompted humans to create settlements, then writing, civilization, and finally, religion.
Göbekli Tepe suggests that spiritual sustenance was what drove early humans to live in larger groups, develop agriculture, domesticate animals, establish permanent dwellings, and finally civilizations.
Göbekli Tepe, c. 10,000 - 8,000 BCE.











Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe limestone pillar, c. 10,000 - 8,000 BCE.
Göbekli Tepe limestone pillar, c. 10,000 - 8,000 BCE.











Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe limestone pillar,
c. 10,000 - 8,000 BCE.
Aerial view of Göbekli Tepe T-shaped pillars with cup marks on top,
c. 10,000 - 8,000 BCE.











Catal Huyuk (Chat-al Hoo-yook)


Artist's rendering of Catal Huyuk

Artist's rendering of Çatalhöyük, Anatolia (present-day Turkey), ca. 6500 - 5500 BCE.











Shrine at Catal Huyuk

Shrine at Çatalhöyük, ca. 6000 - 5500 BCE.











Catal Huyuk reconstruction

Schematic reconstruction of a section of level VI, Çatalhöyük, ca. 6000 - 5900 BCE.











Hall of the Bulls at Lascaux

Animal Hunt shrine at Catal Huyuk
Hall of the Bulls, Lascaux Cave, France,
ca. 15,000 BCE.
Animal Hunt, Shrine A.III.I, Çatalhöyük,
ca. 6000 BC.










Dancing Hunger at Catal Huyuk
Volcano mural Catal Huyuk
Dancing Hunter at Çatalhöyük,
ca. 6000 - 5500 BCE.
View of Town and Volcano, Wall painting, Shrine VII.14, Çatalhöyük, ca. 6000 BCE.