a short note on gender:

Ancient cave paintings are often understood as the first kind of art made by humans.

The exact purpose of the paleolithic cave paintings is not known. Evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas, since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation. They are also often located in areas of caves that are not easily accessible. Some theories hold that cave paintings may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe a religious or ceremonial purpose to them.

It has usually beeb assumed that the first painters were men, archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University present a different theory, he says:

Handprints in ancient cave art most often belonged to women, overturning the dogma that the earliest artists were all men.

Photograph courtesy Dean Snow

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Arti says:

    Interesting thought. But, just for the sake of argument, we can’t prove that a hand print must belong to the artist. Since the artist captured life and going-ons, It could well be someone(s) watching the artist work, say… the wife or even the kids. 😉

  2. Jen says:

    I stand by my own theory however, that the cave paintings were made by young girls, asking mom & dad for a pony 🙂

  3. Jeff says:

    Interesting methodology to compare the finger lengths.

    I wonder whether claims for male and female are based on contemporary views of what artists are and do? As we know from records before the Renaissance, European painters and sculptors were mostly regarded as artisans on a par with woodworkers. I suppose that social status worked even more differently in the paleolithic.

    1. Sigrun says:

      I think it is based on a modern understanding.
      I still find it rather interesting though, that it is possible to study who did what when – in a historical way like this. Our ideas of what we can or should do, is to a large extent formed by what has been, so finding new gender-roles is always interesting.

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