Prehistoric Art

In the history of art, prehistoric art is all art produced in preliterate, prehistorical cultures beginning somewhere in very late geological history, and generally continuing until that culture either develops writing or other methods of record-keeping, or makes significant contact with another culture that has, and that makes some record of major historical events. At this point ancient art begins, for the older literate cultures. The end-date for what is covered by the term thus varies greatly between different parts of the world.

The very earliest human artifacts showing evidence of workmanship with an artistic purpose are the subject of some debate; it is clear that such workmanship existed by 40,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic era. From the Upper Palaeolithic through the Mesolithic, cave paintings and portable art such as figurines and beads predominated, with decorative figured workings also seen on some utilitarian objects. In the Neolithic evidence of early pottery appeared, as did sculpture and the construction of megaliths. Early rock art also first appeared in the Neolithic. The advent of metalworking in the Bronze Age brought additional media available for use in making art, an increase in stylistic diversity, and the creation of objects that did not have any obvious function other than art. It also saw the development in some areas of artisans, a class of people specializing in the production of art, as well as early writing systems. By the Iron Age, civilizations with writing had arisen from Ancient Egypt to Ancient China.

Many indigenous peoples from around the world continued to produce artistics works distinctive to their geographic area and culture, until exploration and commerce brought record-keeping methods to them. Some cultures, notably the Maya civilization, independently developed writing during the time they flourished, which was then later lost. These cultures may be classified as prehistoric, especially if their writing systems have not been deciphered.

Read more about Prehistoric Art:  Asia, Africa, The Americas, Origins

Other articles related to "art, prehistoric art, prehistoric, arts":

Prehistoric Rock-Art Site Of The Côa Valley - History - 20th Century
... But, following the original discovery of rock art, an archaeologist had been investigating the kilometres long Côa valley under the direction of the national Portuguese energy ... Both agencies were aware of the prehistoric art along the Côa, much earlier than the general public and scientific community were informed ... to the press, as well as other organizations interested in prehistoric art and patrimony, such as UNESCO ...
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... The meanings of the Greaser petroglyphs are not known ... They may have been used in religious ceremonies or marked tribal ownership of territory ...
Jean Clottes - Theory of Prehistoric Shamanism
... psychological and social context in which prehistoric cave art was created ... joined with South African anthropologist David Lewis-Williams to study prehistoric art in light of known neuropsychological phenomena associated with ... they concluded that there is a strong argument for believing that much of prehistoric art was in fact produced in the context of shamanic practices ...
Prehistoric Art - Origins
... Human arts might have origins in early human evolutionary prehistory ... recent suggestion, several forms of audio and visual arts (rhythmic singing and drumming on external objects, dancing, body and face painting) were developed very early in hominid evolution by ...

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