Paleolithic Civilization

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In the beginning, there was nothing, and that continued for some time. Then, around 45,000 years ago, humans came trudging out of the primordial soup, and that was something. In about 40,000 BCE, humans first started to create art in what would become known today as the Paleolithic Era. This era is vital to our artistic history because, for the first time, humans were creating true representations, “literally, the presenting again—in different and substitute form—of something observed” (Kleiner 2016), of humans, animals, and the world around them as a whole. The name of Paleolithic stems from the Greek words Paleo, meaning ‘old’, and -lithic, meaning ‘stone’. Together they define it as “Old Stone” which is a perfect representation of the…show more content…
This period is defined by the gathering of food and the taming of dogs as domesticated animals. This truly is the age where culture began. Then came the Neolithic age and the main part of the human cultural revolution was done, for now. At this time, true human communities began to come about. One such community was known as Jericho, where mud-brick houses stood upon stone foundations all gathered on a Jordan River Valley plateau. In Jericho, when someone would die, their loved ones would make a death mask of plaster, paints, and seashells. Here is a brilliant example of the (more ‘modern’) Neolithic art. The detail they put into accurately representing the faces of the deceased shows the more advanced intelligence the people of yesteryear had over the people of yestermillenium. The death masks were made using plaster, molded over the deceased’s face, with red ochre and other colors added to make the face seem more lifelike. Additionally, seashells were used to represent the eyes of the person, and the artists would go so far as to mold eye-lids over the shells, giving these masks a sense of life and beauty that one may not expect from our ancient predecessors. It is possible that the people of Jericho weren’t just making art of their ancestor’s faces for portraiture, but also for ritualistic purposes, maybe to honor and show respect for the dead, who may or may not have some pull over the living. It’s best to just play it safe in those kinds of situations, so I don’t blame them for being

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