Tag Archives: cave paintings

This Week in History: Lascaux Paintings Discovered 1940

On September 12, 1940 near Montignac, France, a collection of prehistoric cave paintings was discovered by four teenagers while chasing their dog down a narrow entrance into a cavern. The 15,000- to 17,000-year-old paintings, consisting mostly of animal representations, are among the finest examples of art from the Upper Paleolithic period.

The Lascaux grotto’s main cavern is 66 feet wide and 16 feet high. The walls of the cavern are decorated with  600+painted and drawn animals and symbols and nearly 1,500 engravings. Animals depicted include horses, red deer, stags, bovines, felines, and what appear to be mythical creatures. There is only one human figure depicted in the cave: a bird-headed man with an erect phallus. Archaeologists believe that the cave was used over a long period of time as a center for hunting and religious rites. The cavern is now closed to visitors because of degradation of the paintings.    Rita Bay

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Ritual & Sacrifice


Egyptian Sacrifice

Ritual activities include sacrificial offerings, prayers and deeds.  Sacrifice was the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.  Sacrifice might be part of a ritual to appease a god or gods or change the course of nature. Votive deposits and offerings were objects offered as sacrifices without the intention of recovery or use in a sacred place generally to gain favor with supernatural forces. Some sacrificial offerings were made in anticipation of the achievement of a particular wish, others as a thank-you offering for favors received.

Sacrifice to Mithras

Anything of value could be a sacrifice.  Sacrifice could be bloodless as in cereal, food or artifacts or a liquid offering, a libation. Generally, the more valuable the offering, the more highly the sacrifice was regarded but the more difficult to make. The most valuable sacrifices have been that of lives, animal or human.

Archaeologists have found human and animal corpses with sacrificial marks long before any written records of the practice. Human sacrifice was usually reserved for the most important events—dedication of an important monument or building, the death of an important personage, or in times of natural disaster.

Venus Figurine

Some of the earliest rituals were related to burial which have been documented as long ago as 30,000 years or more. The cave paintings of Chauvet that have been dated to 32,000 years ago and those at Lascaux to 17,000 years ago depict strange beasts and may have been connected with hunting rituals.  Ancient Venus figurines may have been used to insure success in hunting or fertility for the land or women.  Later, more formal systems evolved.

Tomorrow, Greek & Roman Mythology    Rita Bay

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