As a result of the improvement of nutrition-shelter conditions after the Ice Age, more skillful use of the hand and diversity in tool making; Cave murals were the reflection of the process of consciousness-abstraction and representation-imitation of nature, the exact meaning and development of which we do not know today.
The irregular position of animal figures, not being bounded in a frame, often not connecting and overlapping between them; shows that there are significant time and illustrator differences in the production of drawings. According to one theory, those who drew these paintings were the first professions and artists of history. These people who are hunter-gatherers outside of everyday life and meet their needs from the group accumulation; They painted these pictures to motivate the hunter’s skill and courage and / or to use them in magic rituals.
Some of the prehistoric cave paintings are “handprint” prints made using paint. He has come across numerous handprints in caves in France and Spain. Paleolithic man put his hands on the cave floor; They removed the silhouettes of their hands by spraying soot or paint with hollow bone pipes. In some caves, the hands were painted and printed directly on the wall, creating traces. Handprints are usually red and black, as they are easy to produce for that period. In some traces, fingers are missing or only palm print is seen.
The most important findings in the El Castillo cave in the Cantabria region in northern Spain are painted human hand prints. When the cave was first discovered, handprint prints and figures were considered to be between 33 and 37 thousand years ago as a result of a carbon 14 test; but this dating changed with red disk markings discovered in the cave in 2012.
Carbon 14 test, which measures organic matter in determining the fossil age, because the paintings inside the cave are composed of pigments and deteriorated by oxidation; it cannot do the exact dating exactly. The researchers therefore used the uranium-thorium dating method to measure the exact age of the red discs. Using this method, the calcite minaret in the cave was compared with the red pigment minaret on the discs, and it was found that the discs date back to 40,800 years ago. While the handprints date back 37,000 years, the red discs were less.
Thus, El Castillo cave – dating back to about 8-10 thousand years older than similar cave cultures – has become Europe’s oldest cave painting site for now. Scratched patterns and symbolic figures of various sizes were also found in the region. Despite the primitive appearance of the symbolic signs, no full explanation has yet been found.
The fact that the last red discs discovered in El Castillo point to 40,000 years ago, bringing up another possibility: Did Homo Neanderthal make these painted disc prints? Cave paintings are called Homa Sapiens when they are called the oldest paintings in the history of humanity, but when the dating with El Castillo goes back to 40 thousand years ago; It began to be thought that it may have been made by Neanderthal people, who lived in the same period of time and in a struggle with Homo sapiens humans for a long time. Even extinct Neanderthal people may have left us their primitive arts with red discs and handprints; has begun to be interpreted.
The Perch Merle cave was discovered in 1922 from the Cabrerets region of France. Some of the paintings in the cave, which include the last periods of the ancient stone age, are from the Solutreyen culture 22 years ago, and some engraved pictures are from the Magdalanian period 16 thousand years ago. The handprint pattern found on the Pech Merle wall was accepted as the first fingerprints that reached today as an artistic representation of humanity. In addition, there are many traces of human hand paint among the horse-bison paintings in the cave.
Another important find in the region is the picture known as the “Horses Panel”, in which the horses are surrounded by handprints and punctuation. In addition, a drawing known as the “Woolly Mammoth”, symbolic signs and a human figure killed with spears in the form of a stickman was found.
After the last glacier melting, hunter-gatherer life, consisting of small groups, has undergone a great change with the great change in food and climate conditions. Due to the increasing population, the decrease in game animals and famine problems, the people of the cave period started to live and migrate with anxiety about existence. As a result, cave paintings started to come to an end in the 12th-10th millenniums and traces of Paleolithic life were erased. Afterwards, nomadic societies and agricultural economy emerged with the Neolithic Age.
Of course, the living conditions of the cave (35-10 byo), with some similarities and differences, as well as those experienced in other continents; yet, advanced findings of cave life and upper paleolithic age findings have been rarely found in other continents. But to maintain that this visual production skill takes place only in the European geography; prehistoric within the framework of the progressive understanding of history.