Representation of movement in the Upper Palaeolithic: an ethological approach to the interpretation of parietal art


en Anthropozoologica 43 (1) - Pages 117-154

Published on 27 June 2008

This article is a part of the thematic issue Hide processing: ethnoarcheological approaches

The earliest known figures produced by humans are mainly reproductions of animals. In this study (PhD thesis), which is limited to parietal art in France, animal figures in movement are analysed and interpreted by means of ethology, as these representations can shed light on the motivations of the hunter-artists of the Upper Palaeolithic. An ethological approach provides essential tools for the study and understanding of parietal art, as the representation of movement contributes to the meaning of this original art. Known behavioural themes and their combinations within assemblages probably constituted a kind of grammar which led to the first pictograms. Hunting and animal fertility were central to this.


Prehistory, Upper Palaeolithic, cave art, parietal art, movement, animation, ethology, comparison, interpretation, naturalism, hunting, reproduction.

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