Cave Art May Have Been Painted By Mostly Women, Scientists Say

cave art
Hand stencil in Pech Merle Cave. Courtesy French MInistry of Culture

The prehistoric cave art of Europe may have been painted mostly by women, a new study covered by National Geographic suggests.

Archaeologist Dr. Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University came to this conclusion through studying one of the most enigmatic icons of prehistoric European cave art–hand stencils. In many European caves, there are negative images of hands produced by placing the hand against the cave wall and blowing paint all around it. They range from 12,000 to 40,000 years old, an astonishingly long artistic tradition.

Men’s and women’s hands are different, especially in the relative length of the fingers, so Snow examined 32 of these these stencils from caves in Spain and France. He found that 75 percent of the hands were female.

It’s long been assumed that most cave art was done by men, since so many of the subjects have to do with hunting, generally a male activity in hunter-gather societies. Of course, what Snow’s data really show is that the majority of hand stencils in the sample are of women, which doesn’t say anything about the rest of the art. It could be that there was a separation in the sexes as to who painted what, or perhaps the majority of prehistoric artists were indeed women.

The biggest contributor to the study was the cave of El Castillo in Cantabria, northern Spain, where 16 stencils were measured. This cave is open to the public, so you can take a look at the hands yourself and come to your own conclusions. Gargas and Pech Merle in France were also in the study and open to the public.

Hand stencils have been found in areas as far apart as Argentina, Africa, Australia, and Borneo. It would be interesting to see what results Snow’s study would have on these artistic traditions.

A Kaleidolapse Of Barcelona

Barcelona KALEIDOLAPSE from myLapse on Vimeo.

This video of Barcelona came from the folks at MyLapse recently. And as much as I like seeing any video of Barcelona, this one is special. Because it’s a kaleidolapse. Don’t know what a kaleidolapse is? It’s simple: it’s a time-lapse video, like any other time-lapse video, but the footage presented with a kaleidoscopic effect. The end result is this completely ethereal few minutes of footage that is officially from Barcelona, but might as well be straight out of the Haight-Ashbury Museum of Psychedelic Art and History. Enjoy.

[Thanks, Colossal]

Spanish Cave Paintings Discovered to be Some of the Oldest in Europe

cave paintings
Image courtesy GipuzkoaKultura

Cave paintings at the Altxerri cave system in the Basque region of northern Spain are about 39,000 years old, making them some of the oldest in Europe, Popular Archaeology reports.

A team of French and Spanish scientists analyzed the paintings, which include images such as the bison shown here, as well as finger marks, a feline, a bear, an unidentified animal head and more abstract markings. This early dating of these images puts them in the Aurignacian Period, believed by most archaeologists to be the first flowering of modern humans in the region, although whether or not there were still Neanderthals in the area at this time is an open question.

A later set of paintings in another part of the cave system, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, date from “only” 29,000-35,000 years ago.

By comparison, the art at Cauvet Cave in France is about 31,000 years old, although it is of a much higher quality. The beautiful paintings there were the subject of Herzog’s breathtaking 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

A full report on the cave paintings can be found in the latest issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.

Photo Of The Day: Zamora And Douro

Zamora Doumo River
t3mujin, Flickr

Some photos of the day relate to current events or articles we’ve posted. Others, though, are posted just because they’re striking in some way. This shot, of the Douro River in Spain, was posted to the Gadling Flickr pool a few days ago. I keep coming back to it and hope it captivates some of you just as much.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

World’s Worst Artist Set To Make A Fortune

artist
Wikimedia Commons

Cecilia Gimenez became a laughing stock last year when her bungled attempt to restore a 19th century painting went viral, but now it looks like she’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

The 82-year-old tried to fix the flaking fresco titled Ecce Homo by Elías García Martínez at her local church, the Santuario de Misericordia in Borja, Spain. The result was something that looked like the love child of Justin Bieber and Bigfoot.

The “restoration” became a worldwide sensation and has led to a flood of 57,000 visitors to the once-obscure church. The town, which owns the church, started charging one euro ($1.33) entry, with the money going to the upkeep of the painting and to charity. Now Borja town officials are negotiating with several companies for permission to use the image on everything from wine bottles to coffee mugs, with the artist getting 49 percent of the profits, Art Daily reports.

A spokesman for the town stated that Mrs. Gimenez will donate her portion to charity.

May I suggest she sets up a scholarship for struggling artists with actual talent?